Many strategic plans come with some form of measures and metrics to monitor progress. Adaptive plans can do the same, but the measures and metrics should look different.
Rather than having pre-defined timelines and deliverables that stretch across multiple years, an adaptive planning process should hold itself accountable to the preconditions that are tackled each year and the learning that occurs throughout the year.
Using the Farm to School Example, the monitoring of progress for year one might focus on the extent to which the collaborative group has been able to influence clarity on regulatory requirements, assistance to producers, and adequate reimbursement for producers. By year two, if those preconditions have been successfully influenced, the monitoring of progress might look for evidence of improved on farm food safety.
In addition to monitoring the preconditions, a strong monitoring and evaluation approach will help observe the environment and how it is changing over time. Using the Farm to School example:
- If your scenario mapping revealed that changes in state and federal policy will be a major driver of the food safety environment, you might monitor both of those specific to food safety or reimbursement levels.
- If you did a simulation on what influences the behavior of school district purchasers related to trust in the safety of local farm foods, you might have surfaced the impact of the media on beliefs about whether food is safe. In that case, you would monitor the framing in the media around food safety issues and whether any major or minor food safety crises have emerged.
- If your pre-mortem on the strategy suggested that producer availability is one of the major challenges in this work, you might also monitor the weather, to be realistic about whether producers are having a growing season where they can add additional workload to their plate (e.g. going to on farm food safety trainings) or whether this is a difficult year for producers.