Archives

Diversity / Complexity in Focus

  As cities and regions worldwide celebrate Pride the role of diversity, understanding and unity has been brought to mind just as it has contemplating the British public’s choice to leave the EU with Brexit. Both events offer lessons in dealing with complexity and why diversity isn’t about either/or, but more both and neither and […]

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Reflections said, not done

  Reflective practice is the cornerstone of developmental evaluation and organizational learning and yet is one of the least discussed (and poorly supported) aspects of these processes. It’s time to reflect a little on reflection itself.  The term reflective practice was popularized by the work of Donald Schön in his book The Reflective Practitioner, although […]

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Confusing change-making with actual change

Change-making is the process of transformation and not to be confused with the transformed outcome that results from such a process. We confuse the two at our peril. “We are changing the world” is a rallying cry from many individuals and organizations working in social innovation and entrepreneurship which is both a truth and untruth at the […]

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The hidden cost of learning & innovation

The costs of books, materials, tuition, or conference fees often distort the perception of how much learning costs, creating larger distortions in how we perceive knowledge to benefit us. By looking at what price we pay for integrating knowledge and experience we might re-valuate what we need, what we have and what we pay attention to […]

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Systems thinking and the simple plan

  Planning is something that is done all the time, but the shape in which these plans unfold is often complex in hidden ways. Without the same resources to evaluate those plans (and make different ones should they change) many organizations are left with great expectations that don’t match the reality of what they do (and can […]

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Of tails, dogs and the wagging of both

Evaluation is supposed to be driven by a program’s needs and activities, but that isn’t always the case. What happens when the need for numbers, metrics, ‘outcomes’ and data shape the very activities programs do and how that changes everything is something that is worth paying some attention to.  Since the Second World War we’ve […]

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Developmental Evaluation: Questions and Qualities

Developmental evaluation, a form of real-time evaluation focused on innovation and complexity, is gaining interest and attention with funders, program developers, and social innovators. Yet, it’s popularity is revealing fundamental misunderstandings and misuse of the term that, if left unquestioned, may threaten the advancement of this important approach as a tool to support innovation and […]

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The Finger Pointing to the Moon

In social innovation we are at risk of confusing our stories of success for real, genuine impact. Without theories, implementation science or evaluation we risk aspiring to travel to the moon, yet leaving our rockets stuck on the launchpad.   There is a Buddhist expression that goes like this: Be careful not to confuse the […]

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Beyond the Big and New: Innovating on Quality

Innovation is a term commonly associated with ‘new’ and sparkly products and things, but that quest for the bigger and more shiny in what we do often obscures the true innovative potential within systems. Rethinking what we mean by innovation and considering the role that quality plays might help us determine whether bigger and glossy […]

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Acting on Failure or Failure to Act?

Who would have thought that failure would be held up as something to be desired just a few years ago? Yet, it is one thing to extol the virtues of failure in words, it is quite another to create systems that support failure in action and if the latter doesn’t follow the former, failure will […]

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