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Next Generation Evaluation: Embracing Complexity, Connectivity, and Change

Srik Gopalakrishnan, Hallie Preskill, SJ Lu

This Learning Brief draws from literature and research, as well as more than a dozen interviews with foundation leaders, evaluation practitioners, and social sector thought leaders, with the intention of starting the conversation in the field around Next Generation Evaluation characteristics and approaches.

 

 

 

 

 

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Peter Burgess
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When I look back at the effectiveness of evaluation over the past 30 years, I am not at all happy. Maybe it is because I trained as an engineer and slowly migrated to corporate management accountancy and being a CFO. Evaluation is a management tool, but too little and too late, at any rate as used by the World Bank, the UN and others.

I expect any upgrade of evaluation to be still too little and too late. Big social problems need to be addressed with initiatives that incorporate accounting for impact on people and planet that is as timely and rigorous as the accounting for revenues, costs and profit.

This can be done, but I don't see much movement towards it in most of the writing that is being done about sustainability, resilience, green, and so on.

I am encouraged that more and more people seem to understand what is possible with modern data processing, but there must be a meaningful analysis framework.

Peter Burgess TrueValueMetrics
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Srik Gopalakrishnan
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0 Points
Dear Peter,

Thank you for your thoughts. We remain optimistic that evaluation can be a useful tool in solving social problems. As a former engineer and business person myself, I often look to quality management systems and financial accounting systems as examples, and I believe the social sector can become equally, if not more, rigorous.

We would, however, need to acknowledge the complexity of social change and as you point out, come up with meaningful analysis frameworks that work for us. We hope that we can continue to move the field in that direction!
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