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Mark Cabaj

Mark Cabaj
Mark is President of the consulting company From Here to There and an Associate of Tamarack. Mark has first-hand knowledge of using evaluation as a policy maker, philanthropist, and activist, and has played a big role in promoting the merging practice of developmental evaluation in Canada. Mark is currently focused on how diverse organizations and communities work together to tackle complex issues, on social innovation as a "sub-scene" of community change work, and on strategic learning and evaluation.

Recent Posts

Weaving Together Accountability and Learning in Complex Situations

Posted by Mark Cabaj on February 14, 2018

Michael Quinn Patton, evaluation expert, has argued that even the best intentioned, well-resourced evaluation processes can become, “the enemy of social innovation” if change-makers, evaluators and funders employ a traditional – rather than developmental – approach to assessment.  

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Principles-Focused Evaluation: Newest Approach for Evaluating Complex Change Efforts

Posted by Mark Cabaj on December 11, 2017

One of the toughest challenges for social innovators and evaluators is to describe the “it” they are trying to evaluate. While they typically have a general idea of the outcome they would like to see (e.g., an end to homelessness, addressing mental health issues, a feeling of inclusion), they often struggle to lay out the pathway(s) to get there. This makes it difficult for both parties to land on questions, indicators and/or methods around which to build an evaluation design. 

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5 Shared Measurement Challenges for Collective Impact Initiatives

Posted by Mark Cabaj on October 10, 2017

My just-released paper, Shared Measurement: The Why is Clear, the How Continues to Develop acknowledges the importance of shared measurement as one of the five conditions of Collective Impact.  As noted by Kania and Kramer, “Collecting data and measuring results consistently on a short list of indicators at the community level and across all participating organisations not only ensures that all efforts remain aligned, it also enables the participants to hold each other accountable and learn from each other’s successes and failures.” 

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Collaborating with the Enemy

Posted by Mark Cabaj on May 9, 2017

In his book, Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell, argues that the successful adoption of new ideas – and the beginning of social movements – depends on three things: the quality of the message, the credibility of the messenger, and the timing of the message. 

In Collaborating with the Enemy: Working with People You Don’t Agree With, Like or Trust, author Adam Kahane may have fulfilled all three conditions for the countless people, organizations and networks working together to solve tough and complex challenges.

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Getting Beyond Better

Posted by Mark Cabaj on July 8, 2016

What can we learn from nearly a hundred inspiring stories – saving rain forests in the Amazon, transforming education in Latin America, reforming public health in middle Africa, and reducing poverty in Bangladesh  about how to create transformative change?

This is the question that Roger Martin, one of Canada’s best known business school leaders and management consultants, and Sally Osberg, President and CEO of the Skoll Foundation, which champions social change efforts around the globe, answer in their book, Getting Beyond Better: How Social Entrepreneurship Works. They also uncover a lot about the frequently referred to, but poorly understood, craft of social entrepreneurship. Here are three of their biggest insights.

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Developmental Evaluation Exemplars: Principles in Practice

Posted by Mark Cabaj on November 27, 2015

If you are serious about tackling complex issues and changing systems in an ever-changing world, then you should be serious about Developmental Evaluation (DE). Michael Quinn Patton popularized the approach in his groundbreaking 2010 book, Developmental Evaluation: Applying Complexity Concepts to Enhance Innovation and Use. In it, he provided a comprehensive account of how evaluative thinking and practices could assist - rather than short circuit - the efforts of social innovators.

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