Methodology

Through the Sensemaker Approach integration of qualitative (storytelling or a series of interviews by researchers) and quantitative (e.g. findings from monitoring, but especially the surveys directly connected to the interviews) was established.

Most Significant Change in its turn is ideally suited for the layered stakeholder setting of the programme: the local communities in the first layer, the partners in the second, the organisations' staff the third and where applicable international staff and donors the fourth layer.

Sensemapping is combining these two methods for research with a (computer based) network analysis (hence the -mapping) as well as the use of video where applicable. It is also possible to use tablets for quick and easy surveys and yielding graphs and morphs for a better understanding of the tendencies in the research (quick overview of results).

In practice we start with a thorough desk study, resulting is a network analysis of and around the project: many evaluation methods are vague on the selection of respondents; we have explicitly built in a network analysis tool in our evaluations in order to overcome this problem. After the desk study and network analysis we propose an inception report and inception (kick-off) meeting with stakeholders in order to finetune results of the inception phase.

In the field we (mostly together with a group of dedicated interviewers) conduct a series of interviews in different areas (and with different partners) (sample delivered by network analysis), immediately followed by a small survey with the respondents as well as a 3-minute (average) video interview (gathered stories).

These interviews can (depending on the actual and security situation) also be held on audio, or in written form. The locally made interviews are discussed on village or district level, the results of the (selected) interviews and discussions are shown at national and / or international level (focus groups, stakeholder meetings), together with the results of the surveys. This way both qualitative, quantitative as well as participative methodology is secured.

Based on our previous experience with these different combinations of methodologies (in Zimbabwe, Colombia, DRC, Rwanda, Burundi, Senegal, Mali, Nigeria) we developed Sensemapping for the following reasons:

1. The objectives implementing organisations are trying to achieve in  various programs are first and foremost qualitative (e.g. change of Knowledge, Attitude, Practice - KAP). Furthermore it’s many times an explicit wish to obtain qualitative evidence on top of the existing (quantitative) monitoring data (baselines, MTRs, peer review audits, monitoring frameworks, etc.).

2. The methodology is flexible and allows for (partly) adaptation to different zones and objectives: e.g. for each partner we will have specific sets of questions ('topic' questions as well as survey questions) taking the actual context into account.

3. The methodology is (once crystallised into interview and survey questions which are formulated in close cooperation with research (commissioning-) partner and country teams) easier to carry out in cooperation with local staff, supporting international consultants. This also keeps costs at bay.

4. Learning takes place during the research: talking with beneficiaries and staff about the survey questions sharpens thinking about the programme, and practice in several countries has proven that forums (discussions on stories with beneficiaries, partners, staff in different layers) during the research are a very valuable way of learning during the process. As this is an integral part of our method of Sense-mapping, as is the feedback we deliver in the 4th layer.

5. Because of its hybrid nature Sense-mapping can integrate qualitative as well as quantitative data, thus facilitating an easier use of data as input for upcoming (strategic) discussions. (E.g. ‘Where did our approach work better, where is improvement necessary’): graphs and info-graphics (based on quantitative surveys, including quantitative material resulting from monitoring activities) give an immediate overview (broadly) of the issues at stake; meanwhile in-depth interviews and stories provide the flesh on the bones qualitatively (in the form of quotes in the final report)

6. Samples of reports based on this methodology are available upon request.