Glossary of Terms

Mastery of tools (skills):

Access to local knowledge of the constituencies, opponents, and third parties with which one is interacting. It involves an understanding of their purpose, clarity as to conditions under which they are useful, and the imagination to adapt them to novel contexts and contents.

Meaning making (sensemaking):

The process of creating situational awareness and understanding in situations of high complexity or uncertainty in order to make decisions. 


A procedure for assigning a number to an observed object or event.

Mechanisms of change:

Established processes to evoke change and lead to outcomes.

MERL (Monitoring, Evaluation, Research, Learning):

A radically different approach to program design for USAID and its partners that allows users to source, co-create, and co-design development solutions that innovate on traditional approaches to monitoring, evaluation, research and learning.


A systematic and objective assessment that aggregates findings and recommendations from a series of evaluations.


A quantifiable measure that is used to track and assess the status of a specific business process.

Mid-term Evaluation:

Evaluation performed towards the midpoint of program or project implementation.

Mindfulness mindset:

The ability to understand that multiple solutions are possible.

Minimum Viable Product (MVP):

A version of a new product which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort.

Mixed Methods:

Use of both quantitative and qualitative methods of data collection in an evaluation.


To gather and implement all necessary requirements for a project.

Model for Improvement:

A comprehensive framework for learning and making change within an organization.


The performance and analysis of routine measurements to detect changes in status. Monitoring is used to inform managers about the progress of an ongoing intervention or program, and to detect problems that may be able to be addressed through corrective actions.

Motivation (vision):

A “story of now” moment. It influences creative output, affects the focus one brings to one’s work, the ability to concentrate for extended periods of time, persistence, willingness to take risks, and the ability to sustain high energy.


A governance structure that bring together government, civil society, and the private sector to address complex development challenges that no one party alone has the capacity, resources, and know-how to do so more effectively.