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A mindset for developmental evaluation

Developmental evaluation requires different ways of thinking about programs, people, contexts and the data that comes from all three. Without a change in how we think about these things, no method, tool, or approach will make an evaluation developmental or its results helpful to organizations seeking to innovate, adapt, grow, and sustain themselves.  There is […]

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Smart goals or better systems?

If you’re working toward some sort of collective goals — as an organization, network or even as an individual — you’ve most likely been asked to use SMART goal setting to frame your task. While SMART is a popular tool for management consultants and scholars, does it make sense when you’re looking to make inroads […]

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Flipping the Social Impact Finger

Look around and one will notice a lot of talk about social enterprise and social impact. Look closer and you’ll find a lot more of the former and far less of the latter.  There’s a Buddhist-inspired phrase that I find myself reflecting on often when traveling in the social innovation/entrepreneurship/enterprise/impact sphere: Do not confuse the […]

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Decoding the change genome

Would we invest in something if we had little hard data to suggest what we could expect to gain from that investment? This is often the case with social programs, yet its a domain that has resisted the kind of data-driven approaches to investment that we’ve seen in other sectors and one theory is that we […]

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Benchmarking change

The quest for excellence within social programs relies on knowing what excellence means and how programs compare against others. Benchmarks can enable us to compare one program to another if we have quality comparators and an evaluation culture to generate them – something we currently lack.  A benchmark is something used by surveyors to provide a […]

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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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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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What is Developmental Evaluation?

Developmental evaluation (DE) is a problematic concept because it deals with a complex set of conditions and potential outcomes that differ from and challenge the orthodoxy in much of mainstream research and evaluation and makes it difficult to communicate. At a recent gathering of DE practitioners in Toronto, we were charged with coming up with […]

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Visualizing Evaluation and Feedback

Evaluation relies heavily on feedback and data; providing more visual ways of sharing this data might provide better options for explaining complex phenomena.

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