• Seanna Davidson

developmental evaluation: applying complexity to enhance innovation

book: michael quinn patton

toolkit: spark policy institute

What are these resources?

These resources are on the theme of developmental evaluation (DE). Developmental Evaluation is evaluation used to support the creation of program policies, interventions or innovations that operate in a dynamic, novel and complex environment. The evaluation focuses on learning through feedback while programs are in development to enable the most context appropriate and feasible design outcome.

The first resource is an online toolkit for DE, which gives a general introduction to the practice, why and when to use it, and some of the skills required, as well as a list of tools and how to apply them. The second is a keystone resource written by the leading DE practitioner that discusses some of the more theoretical and abstract concepts of DE.

Why are they worthwhile?

Applying a systems approach requires us to engage in processes of constant learning. DE grew out of the evaluation literature but has wide applicability to systems work because it approaches learning while doing, instead of learning after completion of an activity. In systems we need to constantly re-orientate  based on what we see emerge from the system. DE provides tools and practices through which to do this.

Who is this useful for?

Experienced systems practitioners who are looking to expand their suite of reflection and action learning tools. DE is also appropriate for those in long-term programs and who are moving beyond post-program evaluation practice.

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