Weaving Together Accountability and Learning in Complex Situations

Posted on February 14, 2018
By Mark Cabaj

Weaving-510224-edited.jpgMichael 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.  

In October 2017, the dynamic team at the Community University Partnership (University of Alberta) made this topic the central theme of their annual general meeting, a reflection of their commitment to providing useful research and evaluation in a variety of important social issues across the region. I had the pleasure of presenting to a group of about 120 people during this gathering and have since written a follow up blog emphasizing the three major points of my presentation along with an additional point that I couldn’t help but add in, having not had time in October.

The Community University Partnership annual meeting was yet another reminder that we need to figure out ways to ensure that evaluation contributes – rather than short-circuits – our efforts to tackle complex situations in our communities. To do this, we need to build on – yet change – a field of evaluation often still stuck in more traditional ideas and practices. The Community University Partnership is one of the organizations trying to do just that.

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Evaluating Community Impact, Evaluation, Mark Cabaj, Social Innovation, Blog

Mark Cabaj

By 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.

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