Evaluation 2018: Speaking Truth to Power

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Developmental Evaluation as Strategies Age and Focus on Emergence Changes

Session Number: 2155
Track: Nonprofit and Foundations
Session Type: Panel
Tags: Developmental Evaluation, emergent strategy, philanthropy
Session Chair: Julia Coffman [Director - Center for Evaluation Innovation]
Presenter 1: Sarah Stachowiak [CEO - ORS Impact]
Presenter 2: Julia Coffman [Director - Center for Evaluation Innovation]
Time: Nov 02, 2018 (10:30 AM - 11:15 AM)
Room: Hilton - Hope Ballroom A

Abstract 1 Title: What We've Learned and How We're Evolving: DE from Years 1-3 to Years 4-6 in a Funders Collaborative
Presentation Abstract 1:

ORS Impact has served as the evaluation partner for the Fund for Shared Insight, a funders collaborative focused on improving philanthropy by increasing the use of feedback from those least heard and increasing openness of foundations to listening and sharing. The work began with a rough theory of change, an expectation of co-creation with those around the table, and values for emergence, action, and learning along the way.  As the fund shifts from its first three years to a second three-year commitment for the funders around the table, we see lessons in our evolution as a partner, our role in speaking truth to power, the ways we’ve used of frameworks for differentiating between planned and realized strategy, the absorptive ability of the group around learning and evaluation products, greater differentiation in audiences for products and learning, and how to balance shifts in certainty and focus in the work going forward.


Abstract 2 Title: Developmental Evaluation as Strategies Mature But Complexity Remains Constant
Presentation Abstract 2:

The Center for Evaluation Innovation conducted a developmental evaluation of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation’s Madison Initiative—conceptualized as a complex 20-year systems change effort to improve the ability of Congress to function in ways that work for more Americans—during its initial years of experimentation, testing, and learning. As the initiative developed, the initiative’s approach to strategy changed into a hybrid of nested strategic approaches that still included some testing and experiments, but also featured areas that were more developed. Because the initiative became a strategic hybrid, so did the evaluation. Learn about this shift, including the awkward adolescent growing pains and related fits and starts, as evaluators incorporated different design elements—some developmental, some formative, and some summative—to fit with the Initiative’s developmental arc.


Audience Level: Intermediate, Advanced

Session Abstract (150 words): 

Developmental evaluation is appropriate when strategies are being created and those involved are still figuring out what they want to do and how to do it. It helps new strategies to develop with real-time feedback about what is emerging. But what happens when strategies move out of their early years and emergence slows down? What approaches are helpful for emergent strategies when they grow up? How do you know when it is time to shift to another approach? This presentation will highlight the experiences of two developmental evaluators who have experienced and responded to these questions, one working on a philanthropic initiative focused on US democracy, another as an evaluation partner to a funders collaborative looking at changing the social sector. Both presenters will focus on what they did, how useful it was, and reflect on our options as developmental evaluations mature alongside the strategies we are evaluating.



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Cancellation Policy: Refunds less a $50 fee will be granted for requests received in writing prior to 11:59 PM EDT October 8, 2018. Email cancellation requests to registration@eval.org. All refunds are processed after the meeting. After October 8, 2018 all sales are final. For Evaluation 2018, international attendees and presenters who encounter complications due to the international travel environment will have up to 30 days after the event to request a refund and submit appropriate documentation. No administrative fee will apply for the international requests.