Guiding Principles

We have two sets of guiding principles, our evaluation principles, called the 'Developmental Evaluation Guiding Principles for Social Justice' and our engagement principles, called the 'Developmental Evaluation Institute Ways of Working'.



The following guiding principles shape the evaluation process for all developmental evaluations for social justice (DE-SJ). The principles are based on the Michael Quinn Patton's guiding principles for a developmental mindset, published in the 2016 book Developmental evaluation exemplars: Principles in practice* .  The principles have been adapted slightly to reflect our focus on working in a social justice context. Equally important, and working with these principles, are the principles that guide our ways of working.

Develops the innovation and evaluation together – interwoven, interdependent, iterative, and co-created – so that developmental evaluation becomes part of the change process. 

Innovation Niche
Illuminates how the change is new,  novel, or adapts and interprets old wisdom to new contexts.

Systems Thinking
Thinks systemically throughout, understanding interrelationships, engaging with contrasting perspectives, and reflecting ethically on boundaries of the social system that the innovation and evaluation are being developed within. 

Complexity Concepts
Interprets development through a complexity lens, recognising that situations are often uncertain, emergent and dynamic, and evaluation is responsive to this reality.

Utilization-Focused Evaluation
Pays attention to intended use by intended users from beginning to end, facilitating the evaluation progress to ensure utility and actual use. 

DE for Social Justice Purpose
Illuminates, informs and supports what is being developed and how it addresses the root causes of systemic inequities, identifying the implications and consequences of what is being developed.

Timely and Culturally Appropriate Feedback
Informs ongoing adaptation as needs, findings, and insights emerge, responding to the natural rhythms and cultural norms of the context the development and evaluation are happening within.

Evaluation Rigour
Asks probing evaluation questions; thinks and engages evaluatively; questions assumptions; applies evaluation logic; uses appropriate methods; synthesises and makes meaning from a values inspired framework and stays empirically grounded. 


*Patton, M. Q. (2016a). The developmental evaluation mindset: Eight guiding principles. In M. Q. Patton, K. McKegg, & N. Weihipeihana (Eds.), Developmental evaluation exemplars: Principles in practice (pp. 289-312). New York, NY: Guildford.

Developmental Evaluation Institute Ways of Working

These principles guide the way we work with each other, partners, and communities. These ways of working are as important to us as the guiding principles for Developmental Evaluation for Social Justice.

Social Justice
Work vigorously towards social justice by shining the light on systems as they actually are, troubling power dynamics, creating meaningful opportunities for people to contribute, be heard, experience wellbeing, and shape the decisions that impact them. 
Undivided Selves

Embrace our humanity by honoring and engaging the whole person, including hearts, minds, bodies, and spirits, as well as our stories, histories, cultures, and values.

Make explicit and nurture our connections to each other, the air, land, and sea.

Community Facing
Recognize and create space for the deep wisdom and important ways of knowing that exist in community about themselves, their lives, and their values, irrespective of their titles, training, awards, or social/political station and power.

Artistic Expression
Create opportunities to express our hopes, fears, and values and to critique the world through the arts, with humor, compassion, inspiration, and love.

Loving Relationships
Support loving relationships characterized by nurturing one’s own and others’ spiritual growth, revealed through acts of care, respect, knowing, and assuming responsibility.

Generosity of Spirit
Relate to ourselves and each other with generosity, empathy, and a kind heart. Meeting people where they are at without judgment, creating opportunities for reconciliation, healing, and forgiveness.