Dynamic learning agenda


Use for

Formulating, recording and updating long-term challenges and specific possible actions.


In system innovation projects and programmes, long-term goals are linked to specific actions. Formulating, recording and updating the challenges that arise helps stakeholders (project or programme team and/or participants) to avoid two common pitfalls of transition projects.

  • The phenomenon that short-term challenges come to dominate, so that the long-term objectives are lost sight of
  • The risk that participants get caught up in defining problems, so that specific actions are lost sight of.

What do you do?

As monitor, you take the challenges identified by the participants in the project or programme and reconstruct them on the basis of participatory observation during project meetings or interviews. Another option is to allow the participants to express the challenges during a network meeting. The system analysis and causal analysis are other suitable methods for identifying the challenges. Then, formulate them in terms of questions, alone or together with the project participants. That is the agenda.

The agenda is used as a tool during project meetings to help in the structuring of issues on the basis of the learning questions. It should also be used to make connections between the current situation and the long-term challenges. Some questions persist and remain on the agenda, while provisional answers are formulated for other questions, often in terms of activities. Yet others disappear from the agenda because asking the question already provides sufficient insight to act effectively. At each subsequent meeting the project team discusses the dynamic learning agenda and revises it.

Questions that remain on the agenda for longer periods (months) often relate to persistent problems, which require further analysis, attention and interventions.

An analysis of the successive learning agendas at the conclusion of a project provides insight into the learning process of a project and can be used for a final report.


  • Keeping and using a dynamic learning agenda is less time-consuming than most of the other monitoring methods.
  • What is required as monitor is the sensitivity to link your own knowledge of system innovations to the perspective of the participants in the project. Also you should be able to express the challenges to system innovations in the language and reality of the participants. Experience is also needed with interviewing techniques that lead to negative environmental factors no longer being seen as properties of an external system but as pretexts for personal action.

More information

Mierlo, B. van et al. (2010). Reflexive monitoring in action. A guide for monitoring system innovation projects. Boxpress: Oisterwijk.

Regeer, B.J., A.C. Hoes, M. van Amstel-van Saane, F. Caron-Flinterman en J. Bunders (2009). Six guiding principles for evaluating mode-2 strategies for sustainable development. American Journal of Evaluation 30(4), pp. 515-537.

Used by

Among others: Barbara Regeer, VU, Athena Insituut: