Rotary Peace Center at Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand
Monitoring and Evaluation, or M&E as it is commonly known, may sound boring for some. By moving beyond this perception, we can discover that it is very valuable and critical to professional and personal effectiveness. The same monitoring and evaluation principles that we practice in our professional lives, can and would be useful to be applied in our personal lives. That is why it is important to remember to put the ME in Monitoring and Evaluation.
In the workplace, M&E allows us to track the progress of projects and measure achievements towards expected results. The first component – monitoring – is an ongoing process that involves the regular collection of data or information from projects. This data is used to compare implementation status against plans. The second part – evaluation – involves assessing the effectiveness of a project in achieving its outputs and outcomes at a specific point in time, for example at a mid-term or an end-of-project evaluation. Information gathered during the monitoring process is used for the evaluation, so these two components are tightly linked.
The purpose of M&E is to take a step back to look at how efficient or effective a project is at achieving its objectives. This has many benefits. The obtained information can help lift performance and enhance results by identifying areas for improvement. It can also be used to improve the design, management and delivery of future projects by identifying lessons learned and areas of best practice. For these reasons, monitoring and evaluation is a standard requirement for most private and public sector projects.
While M&E clearly has benefits for our professional lives, sometimes we forget that it can be as useful – if not more useful – in our personal lives. Applying M&E principles to our own lives can help us check if we are actually achieving our life goals, whether it is, e.g., to be happy, healthy, successful, fulfilling social values or pursuing our ideals, passions and inner peace.
The problem is that we feel often too busy to take time to reflect on how we are tracking against our individual life goals. We are busy at work and at home, juggling family life with house chores, studies, sport, social outings and much more. Many of us feel that we don’t have the luxury to take time and reflect on our lives, given the never-ending to-do-list that is awaiting us. Others don’t even value taking the time to reflect.
At work, we purposefully take time to reflect on the progress of projects, but how often do we personally take a moment to monitor and evaluate our own lives? When last did you reflect on your life goals and whether they were (still) the right goals? When last, if ever, did you ask yourself how effectively or efficiently you are achieving your goals or whether you are making any measurable progress towards them?
The Rotary Peace Fellowship offers such an opportunity for professionals working on peacebuilding. This programme offers a motivating and engaging environment that inspires personal growth and reflection while strengthening Fellows’ skills and knowledge in the field of peace studies and conflict resolution. I’ve really appreciated the three months to take time away from work to personally reflect on the goals I would like to achieve towards peacebuilding.
As part of the Rotary Peace Fellowship programme, I have met many extremely inspiring and motivated guest speakers and 23 other Peace Fellows who share the same craving for reflection. Together we have asked how we can best achieve inner peace, and best encourage outer peace among each other, in our communities and the world at large. Hearing from and working together with an interdisciplinary, intercultural group of highly skilled professionals has also helped to monitor my own ongoing self-evaluation. Hearing their stories has enhanced the quality of my personal reflections.
Doing so while being around a community of such inspiring peace practitioners, naturally builds up and strengthens a lifelong dedicated network of peacebuilders striving to make a lasting contribution to peace across the globe. Therefore, applying Monitoring and Evaluation principles on a personal level has been very rewarding and I encourage everyone to start to put the ME in M&E.
Anna Kroon – The Netherlands
Rotary Peace Fellow – Class 23