In a November post on the Forbes India blog, two of my FSG colleagues ask: What does extending microcredit loans to slum-dwellers and providing access to laptops among rural children have in common? The answer: Both are social innovations.
The post goes on to describe the type of evaluation that is likely best suited for these novel interventions to reduce poverty and improve student success: Developmental evaluation. Even though both programs used randomized controlled trials to assess their impact, the authors caution that “just following the headline finding [based on the randomized controlled trial] would have led to the demise of two potentially promising interventions.” While randomized controlled trials can provide much needed evidence about whether a program or intervention is working as expected, in complex systems change work, a more valuable question might be around why, how, and under what conditions a new intervention is showing promise.
I’m excited to see that developmental evaluation, along with its focus on helping organizations learn from, strengthen, and improve their work, has officially arrived in India. For more information, you can read our white paper on Evaluating Social Innovation or check out our webinar on the topic.