I had the privilege of attending Michael Quinn Patton's workshop on principles-focused developmental evaluation. To be honest, it wasn't what I was expecting; I was thinking I would learn more about developmental evaluation. While I did this,  it was also a different and fascinating journey into re-thinking not just how we evaluate programs, but also how we might design more learning-focused (emergent) and holistic programs or even organizations. This was aimed at complex settings.

It makes more sense with an example. Michael gave an example of a collective impact initiative of a drop-in centre for homeless youth. They developed a set of principles that nailed their holistic and unique way of working (trauma-informed, journey-orientated, strengths-based, etc.) then used these principles to evaluate their work, describe their work, and even to get the right employees. There's a careful way of articulating and arriving at principles of course, just like we carefully develop outcomes / theory of change.

I am entranced by the idea of using principles as a simple yet powerful organizing construct for evaluation, strategy and adaption. I can think of so many organizations who'd find this approach really empowering and culturally/contextually respectful and maybe even liberating. This might just be a revolution in how we design and evaluate the complex,

Michael has a new book out on this topic - "principles-focused evaluation". I am bringing 2 copies home!

Jess Dart