The Rockefeller Foundation is setting ambitious goals under our new all-of-Foundation climate strategy for how we can leverage our programs, partnerships, and voice to advance opportunity for all while reversing the climate crisis.

We know the path to transforming energy, food, health, and finance systems in the face of massive climate change disruptions will be non-linear. And the way we work will need to be increasingly dynamic to impact the greatest challenge of our time with ever-changing contexts on the ground.

How do we make necessary strategic shifts in an informed way to create the greatest good for people and planet? We believe the answer lies in a sound practice of strategic learning.

With this key question in mind, about a year ago, we set out to deepen how we learn about, learn from and learn in service of our impact.

We are committed to measuring our impact, learning from our and our partners' successes and challenges, and transparently sharing impact and insights to promote dialogue and inform action.

As a starting point, we created an organizational “blueprint” for strategic learning and impact. This blueprint lays out our journey toward deepening our proficiency as a learning organization – a journey which we acknowledge will never be complete.

It articulates the practice and culture of strategic learning that we’re fostering across The Rockefeller Foundation’s work. And, perhaps most importantly, it puts a stake in the ground around some key principles and values that guide our monitoring, evaluation and learning practices.

Shifting From Having Answers to Asking Good Questions

Learning requires going beyond monitoring against pre-set targets and proving out our initial hypotheses. We must be explicit about what we need to learn, how that evolves over time, and adopt monitoring and evaluation practices that are attuned to complexity, dynamism and unintended consequences.

Humility is integral to learning, because learning requires the conviction that it is okay to get it wrong sometimes—that, in fact, if we don’t get it wrong occasionally, we may not be working to push the boundaries of what’s possible.

We must continually ask ourselves where we could improve, who we might be missing, and whose voices need to be heard.

Learning With – Not Just From – Our Grantees and Partners

We aim to collaborate with grantees, investees, co-investors, and other sector stakeholders to focus learning and evaluation on that which is meaningful and useful for all of us.

And we recognize the best way to be effective is to pause regularly to reflect individually and collectively, allowing that reflection to be the basis of candid conversations about what is and isn’t working.

Thinking Beyond the Quantitative, and Centering Equity

To meaningfully understand and improve our impact, we know we must look beyond just quantifiable data and metrics. We must triangulate across a range of qualitative and quantitative data types, and elevate the voices of the people The Rockefeller Foundation serves.

We particularly want to center systemically and historically disadvantaged groups like those living in extreme poverty, women, and people of color. We want to hear directly from them through feedback loops so we can learn from lived experiences.

Sharing Our Insights, Internally and Externally

Transparency builds trust, and trust supports a community working toward shared goals.

By being open with stakeholders about what is working and what isn’t, we can crowd in resources and partnerships toward the most promising, impactful solutions, and away from solutions that aren’t giving rise to desirable results.

This is part of the goal of our report, Confronting Crisis by Catalyzing Change, released this month to reflect on our and our partners’ impact over the last three years—both what we achieved and where we failed, as well as what we’ve learned.

The work of implementing the principles and practices that we’ve articulated in our blueprint may never be finished. We are just getting started and acknowledge we have a long way to go.

But we are committed to the journey of becoming a partner that authentically enables experimentation and creativity, promotes candid reflection individually and collectively, seeks out diverse perspectives, and acknowledges and learns from failures.