At a recent evaluation workshop by the Tamarack Institute, Liz Weaver and Mark Cabaj challenged us to consider evaluation as a kind of inquiry.  Mark talked about how the conceptual use of evaluation helps us to reflect on multi-dimensional issues, noting that all frameworks reveal and distort- our challenge is to be effective in adapting.  Liz urged us to think about our impact at a whole-community level.  They suggested that learning requires implementation- we must try things in order to understand them.  Mark talked about how there’s nothing worse than looking at a complex problem from behind a desk- we need learning-rich experience to help us understand complexity.

My colleague and I shared our work using Most Significant Change to evaluate a provincial healthcare initiative.  Our challenge has been to evaluate across multiple organizations, regions and strategy types.  We’ve been using Most Significant Change as a generative approach, where diverse stakeholders bring forward stories that are significant to them within key domains identified at the provincial level.  This participatory method is helping us tell the story of innovation in a complex and ever-changing environment.  It’s allowing us to gather rich data directly from the field, from those impacted-by and influencing the changes.  The power of story is also that in the process, we are building relationships and increasing our collective capacity to articulate the work, the outcomes, and their significance at a local and provincial level.  



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