systems science Category

Asking Better and More Beautiful Questions

Beautiful answers require beautiful (and better) questions and Warren Berger’s new book looks at this very phenomenon of inquiry and asks: What does it mean to ask better questions and what does that mean for the answers we seek and receive?   Warren Berger recently published  A More Beautiful Question, a book looking at something we […]

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Do you value (social) innovation?

The term evaluation has at its root the term value and to evaluate innovation means to assess the value that it brings in its product or process of development. It’s remarkable how much discourse there is on the topic of innovation that is devoid of discussion of evaluation, which begs the question: Do we value […]

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Social Innovation Laboratories

Zaid Hassan’s new book The Social Labs Revolution provides a look at the messy world of social change making. While far from being a how-to guide, the book provides a rare glimpse at the thinking behind the lab concept and some stories that illustrate how challenging, complex, and contradictory social change can be in its […]

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“If You Build It..”: A Reflection on A Social Innovation Story

If You Build it is documentary about a social innovation project aimed at cultivating design skills with youth to tackle education and social issues in a economically challenged community in North Carolina. The well-intentioned, well-developed story is not unfamiliar to those interested in social innovation, but while inspiring to some these stories mask bigger questions […]

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What’s the big idea and how are you going to make it real?

Concepts like design thinking and developmental evaluation are best used when they help ask big questions before seeking answers. How we frame the problem is much more important than the solution we generate, but that way of thinking means going into an area that is much talked about and rarely delivered on: strategy. Many companies […]

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Developmental Evaluation and Design

  Innovation is about channeling new ideas into useful products and services, which is really about design. Thus, if developmental evaluation is about innovation, then it is also fundamental that those engaging in such work — on both evaluator and program ends — understand design. In this final post in this first series of Developmental […]

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Developmental Evaluation and Mindfulness

Developmental evaluation is focused on real-time decision making for programs operating in complex, changing conditions, which can tax the attentional capacity of program staff and evaluators. Organizational mindfulness is a means of paying attention to what matters and building the capacity across the organization to better filter signals from noise. Mindfulness is a means of […]

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Developmental Evaluation and Sensemaking

Developmental evaluation is only as good as the sense that can be made from the data that is received. To assume that program staff and evaluators know how to do this might be one of the reasons developmental evaluations end up as something less than they promise.  Developmental Evaluation (DE) is becoming a popular subject […]

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Developmental Evaluation and Complexity

Developmental evaluation is an approach (much like design thinking) to program assessment and valuation in domains of high complexity, change, and innovation. These three terms are used often, but poorly understood in real terms for evaluators to make much use of. This first in a series looks at the term complexity and what it means […]

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Bringing Design into Developmental Evaluation

Developmental evaluation is an approach to understanding and shaping programs in service of those who wish to grow and evolve what is done in congruence with complexity rather than ignoring it. This requires not only feedback (evaluation), but skills in using that feedback to shape the program (design) for without both, we may end up […]

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