What an outcome is? What is an output? What is the difference between an outcome and the impact? Wait a minute! We don’t already know that? This is an international center, right?

Sometimes thinking that I already know something could be more dangerous than to ask myself if what I already know is what I think I know, especially when knowledge of that subject is important to my team. When we periodically review all of our subjects, we have an open space where every question is a valid one. Even the simplest question can lead us to an even deeper answer.

In order for us to succeed in monitoring our research progress, it is absolutely necessary for us to be on the same page about how we define M&E terms, and what are our expected outputs and outcomes. And last but not least, how these outcomes can contribute to long-term impacts and CIAT’s three strategic objectives.

For that reason, on August 8, with the support of Monitoring and Evaluation area (M&E), the Sustainable Food Systems (SFS) team joined together (17/44 people of the team) to review those fundamental concepts and also the specific Impact Pathway for our program, which had been formulated in Nairobi last January by the thematic leaders of the team. This was a great opportunity not only to get to know each other, but also to understand where each participant sees themselves contributing to the planned research outlined in the SFS Impact Pathway.

Of course, this two hour workshop was only an appetizer to initiate the dialog about these topics and to connect us more deeply as a team. We know that we need common spaces to reflect on our specific experiences, about what are we doing, what we need to keep doing, what we need to change, and why. That is key to strengthen CIAT’s research agenda in all programs. We have taken the first step. Hopefully all other CIAT teams do it.

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