10 ways to connect in 2019

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Dear DEI community:

People tell us, “I feel alone when in developmental evaluation and wish I had a community of practice.” We hear you. Kate McKegg, Nan Wehipeihana and I are creating opportunities for  developmental evaluators to connect in 2019. Please consider engaging in these different ways.

1.     Attend our February 13-15 Convening, Getting to Grips With Developmental Evaluation, in Raglan, New Zealand: https://www.developmentalevaluation.institute/events/

2.     Donate: Any contribute helps! https://www.developmentalevaluation.institute/donate/ Please note that we do not yet have tax exempt status.


3.     Share your experience: We are looking for developmental evaluation examples in the form of blog posts, case studies, art work, music, photographs, public reports, and more. Email me directly if you have something to share.


4.     Download the first even developmental evaluation e-anthology: https://www.developmentalevaluation.institute/eanthology/


5.     Tell us what you need: Let us know what you want and need so we can consider the developmental evaluation community’s needs when developing workshops, courses and materials: https://www.developmentalevaluation.institute/dei-survey/


6.     Follow us on Social Media: Twitter (@DE_Institute ), FaceBook (https://www.facebook.com/DevelopmentalEval/), and LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/company/developmentalevaluationinstitute/)


7.     Tag us when posting about developmental evaluation on social media: #DE_Institute, #DevelopmentalEval 


8.     Volunteer: Do you have a skill to contribute? Help us write a monthly newsletter, create social media posts, create online courses, manage the logistics of registrations, etc.  Share your interest via our contact form. https://www.developmentalevaluation.institute/contact-us/


9.     Help us get the word out: Share this email widely with colleagues! We invite leaders, funders, community members, students, and more to get involved. Developmental evaluation isn’t just for evaluators.


10.  Stay in touch: Complete our contact form so we can stay in touch: https://www.developmentalevaluation.institute/contact-us/


Happy New Year!

Nora, Kate & Nan


DE Guiding Principles: 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.

  • Developmental Evaluation it not evaluation lite. To ensure evaluation rigour, evaluators should have deep methodological toolkits and be flexible in their application of evaluation tools, methods and approaches to best meet the needs of key stakeholders, communities and the innovation. Evaluators need to be able to couple their choices of methods and approaches with context.

  • Typically in a Developmental Evaluation, an adaptive action cycle of inquiry – What, So what, Now what – is an essential process that allows for shared emergent and iterative questioning, reflection and action.  

  • Evaluative reasoning and thinking is an essential part of Developmental Evaluation i.e., combining evidence and values to reach conclusions about quality and value. It is with rigorous thinking that rigour is displayed.

Questions to ask ourselves:

  • What kinds of thinking are we familiar with?

  • How often do we question the thinking that is needed in evaluative contexts?

  • What perspectives and values need to be included in decisions about evaluative criteria, design and synthesis?

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DE Guiding Principles: 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.

  • Timeframes in Developmental Evaluation need to be matched to the rhythms of the initiative  - so situational responsiveness is an imperative.

  • It’s important to think creatively about what an evaluation process or product might look like, taking cues and guidance from the context and situation.

  • Increasing credibility and use usually requires forms of expression that map to the context.  

Questions to ask ourselves:

  • What will ‘good’ delivery of feedback look like in this context?

  • What will be needed to ensure feedback is culturally appropriate?

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DE Guiding Principles: 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.

In complex situations, as people are innovating, Developmental Evaluation’s purpose is to support the innovation to develop by helping to:

  • identify what is emerging, as well as examining the dynamics of a situation

  • support decisions about what to carry forward, what to leave behind, what to adapt, what new things to do

  • unpack how context is affecting the development process including the degree, nature and consequences of adaptive innovation

  • track, monitor and interpret systems changes that might affect development

  • ensure real time feedback is available about emergent needs, challenges, flows of information and resources.

Questions to ask ourselves:

  • How comfortable is it to raise and unpack new and challenging issues with innovators and leaders?

  • How prepared are we to draw on and utilise a wide range of perspectives and networks to understand different situations and contexts?

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DE Guiding Principles: 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.

  • Engagement in evaluation should be both useful and valuable to participants and other stakeholders.

  • It pays to be mindful about what utilisation looks like in people’s unique contexts.

  • It’s important for the evaluation to be able to work with and adapt to different situations.

  • Evaluation use occurs throughout the evaluation process, it’s not something that should be left until the end.

Questions to ask ourselves:

  • How do we typically take the pulse of situations? How well does this serve us?

  • How do we learn what matters to people?

  • What are the different ways we might build evaluation utilisation into the current situation?

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DE Guiding Principles: Complexity Concepts

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

  • It is not possible to understand the world around us by only examining its parts – we live as part of patterns of relationships in a synergistic way with all the different features of our situations.

  • History matters – the events of the past do influence the shape of our futures.

  • One size does not fit all and the way change happens is dependent on the features and patterns of relationships in local contexts.

  • Change is emergent, the future is uncertain.

  • Variation and diversity provides resilience in the face of change.

Questions to ask ourselves:

With innovation, there will always be uncertainty and turbulence:

  • How easy or difficult is it to stand quietly in inquiry when faced with a complex situation?

  • What possibilities inform our thinking that we didn’t know existed twelve months ago?

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DE Guiding Principles: 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.

Developmental Evaluation explores sources of:

  • motivations and values built into our views of situations and efforts to improve them.

  • legitimacy, i.e., the moral basis on which we expect people or the environment to bear the consequences of what we do or fail to do.

  • control, addressing power structures influencing what is considered to be the problem and what might be done about it.

  • knowledge and the knowledge basis defining what counts as relevant.

Questions to ask ourselves:

  • Where does the sense of purposefulness and value come from in the situation?

  • Where does control / authority for the situation rest? Where should it be coming from?

  • What experiences and expertise are considered relevant and credible?

  • What experience and expertise ought to be at the table?

  • Whose interests are being served legitimately?

  • Whose interests ought to be served legitimately?

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DE Guiding Principles: Innovation Niche

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

  • Part of the developmental task is to find out what innovation and adaptation means to those who are trying to bring about change, helping to identify the degree and nature of change happening and evolving.

  • It’s important to recognise that sometimes what seems ‘innovative’ is actually recognition and support of old wisdom and practice.

Questions to ask ourselves:

  • How can Developmental Evaluation help track the changes in basic routines, resources and/or information flows, beliefs and behaviours in systems?

  • How do we manage the tensions between innovation and learning and the push for accountability?

  • How might Developmental Evaluation balance support for innovation and emergence and also support initiatives to demonstrate their value empirically and robustly?

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DE Guiding Principles: Co-Creation


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

  • It’s vital to make time developing and revisiting shared understandings of values, principles, and other key concepts.

  • Trusted relationships are the business of Developmental Evaluation and the basis of the collaborative and developmental process inherent in innovation.  

Questions to ask ourselves:

  • Do we understand the differences in power in a particular situation?

  • How can we gain more insight or understanding about this?

  • What responsibilities do we have in relation to this power?

  • How do we acknowledge the history, experience and wisdom that exists within the current situation?

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Last day to submit your piece for our inaugural e-anthology!

If you have a song, poem, photo, short or long quotation, case study, reflective essay, or ANY other creative piece that connects to Developmental Evaluation, our guiding principles, or our ways of working, send your contribution to publications@developmentalevaluation.institute before the end of the day tomorrow! We are thrilled to have a number of volunteers who have joined our editorial board and we have begun reviewing pieces to include in our inaugural Developmental Evaluation e-Anthology for Social Justice. Contact us if you have any questions, we look forward to reading, listening to, or viewing your submissions!

7 Reasons to Submit a Piece for the DEI's inaugural e-Anthology

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7. The deadline is extended and you have more time! You may have been concerned about meeting our deadline, but you're in luck, we are now accepting pieces through April 10th!

6. You'll contribute to and be part of a virtual learning experience. You know that the way people learn about things is changing rapidly. To learn about a subject, it's becoming much rarer to check out a library book and more and more common to Google it. You're passionate about generating activity and discussion around DE , and want to be a part of this innovative way of doing so.

5. You embody your principles through song, dance, drawings, paintings, stories, or some other creative work. You do not have to be an evaluator to contribute to the anthology. We are looking for creative expressions of our guiding principles and want to represent various ways of knowing in the world. 

4. You've done a Developmental Evaluation, or used similar principles in your work. You know the pitfalls and challenges, and the possibility to unlock potential. You know what it's like and want to share share your experiences. Maybe you have a case study, a reflection, or a piece of art that came out of your work.

3. You want to get your name out there. This is your chance to be published in an up-and-coming, creative anthology that will almost certainly become a highly acclaimed, annual publication! (if you think we're kidding...)

2. You have a passion for social justice and a generosity of spirit. Again, you do not have to be a "traditional" evaluator.  You are deeply involved in social justice work and the complexity that comes with it. You live generously and thus want to share your wisdom and questions, and connect with others looking to grow.

1. You believe communities harness the power of change. You have seen the power of individuals to come together and navigate complex systems. You believe we are connected, and when we work together and listen to one another we can tap into deep wisdom. Our aim is that the e-Anthology begins to draw together a community that will help us all to harness this power. We are excited for you to be a part of it.


DEI Updates

Patience is power. Patience is not an absence of action; rather it is ‘timing,’ it waits on the right time to act, for the right principles and in the right way.”
— Fulton J. Sheen

How often it is that things we think are meant to be are not yet ready! We have postponed our Bali convening for a better time, when more people are able to join us. We understand giving longer notice, a better time of year, and possibly a more accessible location would allow more people to be involved.

DEI Structure

While our convening is briefly paused, we are moving quickly forward with other aspects of the Developmental Evaluation Institute, which will be unrolling as they are developed throughout 2018. Read more about our plans below, and please provide your input to share how DEI can become a useful tool and community for you!

What We Offer


Community of Interest

Available now:

  • Growing online resource library- curated, free resources from around the web and world to help practitioners, community members, and others get more information about Developmental Evaluation.
  • This Blog!

Coming Soon:

  • Discussion forums- Generating conversation, learning, and community around DE for social justice and its guiding principles. 

Infusion of Art and Principles

In the works:

Online Training and Certification

Coming Soon:

  • Webinars
  • Community of Practice Discussion Forums
  • Additional, exclusive resources
  • Exercises and virtual “hands-on” learning

Capacity Development and Coaching

Available now:

  • Online trainings or workshop facilitation
  • In person trainings or workshop facilitation 
  • Online and in person coaching- general topics, advice, and information on Developmental Evaluation
  • Online and in person consulting- specific to your organization and  practice.

Contact us for more information and pricing for these services.

Calling All Creatives

We are thrilled to be announcing the inaugural call for submissions for the first ever DEI e-Anthology of Developmental Evaluation (DE) for Social Justice. This project is the culmination of many hours of creative conversations, insights, and recommendations from evaluation practitioners and community members from around the world!

Our aim in producing this e-Anthology is to bring together individuals from around the world who are interested in topics pertaining to the eight principles of DE for social justice to illuminate what DE looks like in practice, why DE is particularly suited in work in social justice context, the value of including voice underrepresented communities in the practice of DE, and to have tangible tool and resource for social justice developmental evaluation practitioners and community members.

As you may have seen in our call for submission this inaugural e-Anthology will center around our eight principles for DE for social justice which include:

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(1) Co-creation

(2) Innovative Niche

(3) Systems Thinking

(4) Complexity Concepts

(5) Utilization-Focused Evaluation

(6) Developmental Social Justice Purposes

(7) Timely and Culturally Appropriate Feedback

(8) Evaluation Rigour

...and one (or multiple!) or our working principles: social justice, undivided selves, connectedness, community facing, artistic expression, loving relationships, and generosity of spirit.

We are seeking short essays, quotes, book reviews, podcasts, musical lyrics, poetry, photo essays, quotes, policy notes or program briefs, and any other creative submissions which seek to illuminate the principles and practice of developmental evaluation for social justice and are written for an interdisciplinary readership.

The goals of the creation of the e-Anthology are to establish a network of relevant individuals interested and passionate about developmental evaluation for social justice; gather knowledge, wisdom and insight, and experiences pertaining to the theory and practice of DE; create an overarching model and supporting content for the forthcoming DEI course curriculum.

We are eager to hear your voice! Please send your submission to publications@developmentalevaluation.institute by March 14th, 2018.

In addition, the editorial board of DEI is also seeking peer reviewers and copy-editors for the inaugural DEI e-anthology to assist with reviewing and editing the first edition and future edition. To volunteer for any of these positions, please fill out this brief volunteer form.

Please comment below or contact us with any questions you have, we look forward to hearing from you.

Warm greetings from the Minnesota team

What does development mean, anyway? As students in a Masters of Development Practice program learning about Developmental Evaluation, you'd think we'd have a clue! Yet, one of the questions that continues to elude us is how to explain our degree with the wide range of meanings and uses of the term, "development." There's child development and economic development; new housing or business developments and development as nonprofit fundraising. Research and development is a big one, professional development, international development (our degree program) and of course, developmental evaluation (what we're doing here)!  With such a ubiquitous term, it becomes difficult to tell what any "developmental" thing actually is just by the name.

We're used to that! So we're looking forward over the coming months to a deeper exploration of Developmental Evaluation. What is it? How do we learn how to do it? What are the principles that guide it? What does it look like in real life? How does it relate to whatever we're doing? How can we use it to advance social justice? We are looking forward to learning the answers to these questions, and meeting you who can guide us along the way. Look out for us in your inboxes, on this blog, around our haunt at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, and elsewhere (probably not in Bali, but we can dream, can't we?). We're on a quest to help launch DEI and grow a collective understanding of Developmental Evaluation along the way. We are:


Vanessa Voller

While originally from St. Paul, Minnesota, Vanessa has most recently been calling southern Costa Rica and Colorado home. Academically, Vanessa's interests are in examining youth’s aspirations and alternative models to sustainable growth. Beginning in September 2018, she will be pursuing a Ph.D. in Comparative International Education at the University of Minnesota. Outside of school, Vanessa enjoys climbing, long-distance running, and brewing kombucha. Vanessa is thrilled to have the opportunity to work with the Developmental Evaluation Institute and will be helping to create the first ever e-collection of stories, art, spoken word, and essays about the principles of DE. 


Jennifer Compton

Hailing from the state of Iowa, Jennifer has made her way from the midwestern U.S., to the Middle East, and back again. She has studied in Morocco, worked in Jordan, and is interested in issues of forced migration and improving systems for people who are refugees. Her professional experience is in adult literacy education, nonprofit fundraising, and community engagement and partnership building. In addition to being a student, Jennifer fashions herself a runner, gardener, and Sunday crossword aficionado. She joins this team enthusiastically and is looking forward to working on the DEI website and resource library.


Patrick Roisen

Patrick is originally from Buenos Aires (Argentina), and spent a majority of his upbringing living in various international places and contexts. In addition to his graduate studies, Patrick works at the Institute on the Environment (IonE), managing a university-wide teaching fellowship program for the Sustainability Education department. Before arriving at the University of Minnesota, Patrick served over three years in West Africa as a Peace Corps Education Specialist with a non-governmental organization focused on gender policy and female empowerment. Patrick's professional interests include environmental policy, program evaluation and exploring how philanthropy can effectively solve complex challenges. In May he will be moving to Baltimore, Maryland and join Lutheran World Relief as the New Business Development Manager in the Strategic Partnerships unit. Patrick's hobbies include tennis, cooking, and listening to Minnesota Public Radio. He will be lending his strategic eye to the team to explore the many possibilities for how DEI might continue to take shape. 

What's new for DEI in 2018


The new year is well upon us and we have been busy these past few weeks sowing seeds so that we might enjoy a bountiful harvest of new ideas, partnerships, art, and learning in 2018.

We're especially looking forward to a few developments that are getting off and running:

New Partnership with the University of Minnesota

For the next four months we'll be collaborating with a small team of students from the University of Minnesota who are interested in developmental evaluation, program design, and strategic planning to fast forward our DEI initiative. The students are studying in the Masters of Development Practice program, a curriculum which encourages thinking across academic disciplines in complex scenarios to work for sustainable, positive change. The team will be helping us imagine what DEI can grow into, developing pilot projects for you all to test, and asking for input and ideas from our community of supporters, including you who are reading this very blog!

Ways YOU can get involved in the process!

To grow and nurture this new initiative - we need your input! We'd like this space to be one for idea sharing and two-way communication. At its least, a blog shares updates and information (which isn't bad!), but at its best, an online forum can facilitate interaction between people halfway across the world. That is in part what we hope to accomplish, eventually, with DEI and so we hope that by commenting, contributing, and sharing, you will help us turn this into your site, as much as it is ours. If you have ideas or questions already about what you would like to see, post a comment! Send an e-mail! Don't be shy about letting us know what will keep you looking forward to checking in with us each week.

Moving forward with the Developmental Evaluation Institute (DEI)

Finally, we're pleased to announce another DEI weeklong training is in the works for late April of this year. Check back soon for updates, and know that we are mindfully preparing the course to be inclusive for people from all backgrounds and levels of experience.

Happy New(ish) Year to you! May all the work you're doing bear glorious fruit.

Developmental Evaluation for Social Justice Institute: Faster Forward Fund Grant Funding

The Developmental Evaluation Institute for Social Justice Institute is the brainchild of Nora Murphy of the TerraLuna Collaborative and Kate McKegg and Nan Wehipeihana of the Kinnect Group. Still, In the early design and development stage, the Institute aims to provide an alternative pathway for new evaluators from under-represented communities who want to work as Developmental Evaluators for social justice. Follow the progress of the Institute here. Nora, Kate, and Nan would like to acknowledge The Faster Forward Fund for providing grant funding to support the development and launch of the Institute.