M4I departs from the perspective that many development initiatives need to manoeuvre in a context that is dynamic and changing, involving complexities that contain many uncertainties as to what the future holds. The world is changing rapidly, by globalization and technological change and we can hardly keep pace. There are power shifts (China, India), crises (financial, food, water, climate) and changes in agenda setting (Busan; government & aid & private sector; regional, national, local). Development initiatives do not work in a vacuum and we need to be aware of what is happening in our context so as to adapt quickly as and where needed. . , This complexity increases the demand for collaboration with different stakeholders and testing underlying assumptions of change.
We need an ability to understand and connect to such constantly changing context dynamics in terms of both past, present and trends into the future. This involves both an attitude (alertness, agility) as well as specific (organisational) functions that are able to pick up relevant signals about what is happening and is about to happen in the context of the initiative. The ‘connect’ only comes full cycle, when this feeds into strategic guidance in order to inform adaptive decision making. M&E needs to be charged with that function, making it a strategic mechanism that goes beyond mere assessment of achievements and results. It enables us to ‘navigate complexity’ more successfully and allows us to learn more about what is involved in successful development processes.