The CAMEL resource library is a curated collection of resources, carefully chosen to provide an introduction to complexity-aware monitoring. Since the concept of complexity-aware monitoring was introduced in 2013, the practice and literature have expanded significantly. Rather than attempt a comprehensive listing or duplicating other long-standing, well-resourced efforts, this library offers users a solid foundation of basic concepts and suggestions for further exploration.

Introduction to Complexity-Aware Monitoring

  • USAID Discussion Note on Complexity-Aware Monitoring | This Discussion Note outlines general principles and promising approaches for monitoring complex aspects of development assistance. Complexity-aware monitoring is useful when results are difficult to predict due to dynamic contexts or unclear cause-and-effect relationships.
  • Overview of Complexity-Aware Monitoring (slide deck) | This presentation is an introduction to complexity-aware monitoring and how principles and approaches that fall into this category can complement performance monitoring work in development programs.

Complexity-Aware Principles for MEL

Complexity-Aware Approaches

  • Worksheet: Six Simple Questions to Identify Your Complexity-Aware Monitoring Need |This worksheet is a starting point for identifying unmet monitoring and/or evaluation needs. The questions within the worksheet will help you outline the purpose, scope and intended uses for monitoring and/or evaluations that go beyond standard requirements and further facilitate decision making.
  • A Guide to Complexity-Aware Monitoring Approaches for MOMENTUM Projects | This guidance includes an introduction to the key concepts associated with complexity-aware monitoring, guidance to support application of the approaches, a summary matrix to quickly compare selected approaches, a brief overview of each selected approach, and resources to support use of these approaches.
  • The Systems and Complexity White Paper. Johns Hopkins, et al. (2016), SPACES MERL| This paper provides an overview of systems and complexity practice, its current state of application and relevance to international development practice; establishes a taxonomy of systems and complexity tools; and reviews and provides information on application of SPACES MERL tools, their purpose and construction, required data, and their applicability to specific contexts.

Systems Thinking

  • Systems Practice Toolkit. | This toolkit will help you and your organization understand the nature of the problem you’re facing, design effective solutions, act and work systemically, and learn as you go. Together, these tools will help you work more effectively with the complex problems and situations you face day-to-day. The toolkit includes 8 systems practice tools with illustrative examples and blank templates for you to use. 
  • Systems Thinking and Practice: A guide to concepts, principles and tools for FCDO and partners. UKaid. | The guide is a basic reference on systems thinking and practice tailored to the context and needs of the UK Government’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO).
  • Systems Thinking: What, Why, When, Where, and How? | The tips within this document are designed to get started with applying systems thinking, whether you’re trying to introduce systems thinking in your organization or attempting to implement the tools in an organization that already supports this approach.
  • The Water of Systems Change | The Water of Systems Change aims to clarify what it means to shift these conditions for change. This site presents the “inverted triangle” framework as an actionable model for funders and others interested in creating systems change. A full compilation of FSG’s publications and tools focused on systems thinking can be found here: FSG Resources.
  • The 5Rs Framework in the Program Cycle | The 5Rs Framework highlights five key dimensions of systems: Results, Roles, Relationships, Rules and Resources. Collectively these 5Rs can serve as a lens for assessing local systems and a guide for identifying and monitoring interventions designed to strengthen them. This provides examples of aspects of the system that could be monitored throughout project implementation.
  • Leverage Points – Places to Intervene in a System, Sustainability Institute | This paper written by Donella Meadows gives an overview of how to think about leverage points and where development practitioners can intervene in a system. It also describes how leverage points may be difficult to access or discern in a system. 
  • Leverage Points – A Guide for Systems Innovators | This guide is an overview of how to use leverage points for systems change. This guide will introduce you to a set of theories and practices that are based on the leverage points method. These include systems aikido, systems acupuncture, and system gardening.