What's in the air for me right now?
COPASAH Global Symposium, Delhi 16-18 Oct 2019
Part of the support team for this conference about Citizenship, Governance and Accountability in Health I’ll enjoy being in a space where everyone is thinking and talking about health as a system in which everything from grassroots/local individuals to Government and INGOS/ global scales interact. A classic example of “glocal”. Health as a subject area gets me back to the medical roots from which my broader development interest grew.
“Blue Marble Evaluation” Webinar recording.
I actually did my “Time is of the Essence” webinar for BME with the well-known Michael Quinn Patton in March as part of the BME webinar series. I think the Blue Marble approach is a critically important “phase- change” in evaluation as it tries to keep up with a planet also experiencing a phase change. More about that in this blog. Anyway, I promised to put up a recording and am finally doing so now. Here it is. Apologies for the delay.
Runner up for Innovative Evaluation, IDEAS Global Assembly 2019
My evaluation with SRSP in Pakistan last year has just been awarded runner up at the IDEAS global assembly awards for innovative, credible and influential evaluations. This Outcome Harvest in a remote, conflict affected area of Pakistan included the SRSP team as evaluators and used qualitative research software to analyse outcomes.
Away in Early October 2019
My wife and I are on a big trip in the Himalayas in late September/ Early October 2019. Normal service resumes on 7 October.
Participatory Outcome Harvest Kenya,
In November I evaluate a programme aimed at reintegration and rehabilitation for young people living on the streets in two Kenyan cities. Along with all the complexities and social dynamics involved (poverty, marginalisation, crime etc) two dimensions of this evaluation make it especially appealing: As well as members of the NGO two or three “at risk” youth will be part of my evaluation team and I will work with and get to know a Kenyan evaluator who is keen to learn principles and practise of participatory Outcome Harvesting. I’m hugely looking forward to it.
Conservation as a Social Science: Wildlife Institute of India
On Sept 23 I presented to masters students at WII. What does a development professional have to say about conservation dynamics in todays world? The summary of what I’ll says is that when the natural world was of a much larger scale than the human world conservation was about biology. However today every conservation issue is nested in human development and all human issues are nested in the biological world in a reflexive, feedback loops. The key elements of conservation today are social questions and conversely development today is not just a human issue, it must include biological and natural science. Lets see how that goes down.
Participatory Rural Assessment, Yamuna Valley, Rural India
Just back from a 3 day PRA exercise related to community mental health, especially as experienced by women, in remote rural India. It was really good to be connecting with poor people and using creative listening (my description of PRA) to see the world through their eyes, understand the difference in world view between women and men, children, old people, let people tell us whether education, caste gender or money is their biggest perceived access barrier to health care etc.
A day with Funders, Melbourne.
In Dec. 2019 I will spend a day talking about OM, OH and systems in Melbourne with a funder with which I have done many evaluations. I see relationships and communication with funders as a major part of my role. Somehow during and after an evaluation Funder, evaluator and project have to all be on the same page regarding what they are doing, how and why. A day in a funders office will be excellent for me and, I hope, them.
OM Design, North India
Working with an innovative team to build a OM design of a programme aimed at mental health and reducing gender based violence in a rural mountainous part of North India. I the of all the things I do I enjoy this early design phase most- everything is up for grabs, its all about conceptual thinking and including perspectives and less about management and implementation
Connecting Outcome Harvesting, MSC and Photovoice. Indonesia.
I facilitated a workshop in participatory techniques in development including Most Significant Change, Outcome Harvesting and Photovoice. The connoting theme is that development is about system change modulated through changes in people. Therefore people’s stories count. I loved using different methodologies to capture the same core philosophy.
Outcome Harvest, Cambodia
In late April I will lead a participatory Outcome Harvest in Cambodia. looking at child rights and income generation in a variety of rural areas.
Time is of the Essence
Did the webinar described below, titled “Time is of the Essence” from under a tree with the Himalayas looking on using a phone hotspot. Seemed to fit for thinking global and being totally embedded local. We told stories from Cambodia, covered project trajectories, talked about evaluating time and reminisced about great moments in World Cup soccer, all under a big Himalayan sky with dogs fighting and coolers walking past in the background. Kinda connects the dots. All good fun. A link to the webinar is here
Blue Marble Evaluation.
I attended a workshop by eminent evaluator Michael Quinn Patton in 2017 at which he introduced a concept of Blue Marble Evaluation- how to think about those complex, multidimensional, unbounded issues that are increasingly facing globalised humanity (e.g. Climate change, International Migration etc). This really piqued my interest and I made a point to speak to him. Now, two years later he is about to publish a book on the subject, will set up a website and is co-ordinating a series of webinars. I have continued to think about this and I am looking forward to presenting a webinar on Time as a Blue Marble principle with Michael on March 5. See events.
Beyond the webinar I am fascinated by the whole idea. I think this is an important step in the future of development and am super keen to be involved. Multi-dimensional, geographically unbounded, complex feels like a description of who I am, an integration of all my history, a valid place to express some of what I can bring to the world.
Project Design, India
Just started with a small team in Lucknow with an OM design for a project aimed at reducing violence against children. Outcome Mapping is always interesting, this project especially so because the team themselves live in the bustee (slum) where they will work and share the lives of the people whom they will work with. Their project is on a small scale but goes to great depth- behaviours and attitudes around parenting touch some of the deepest dimensions of our identity
Outcome Harvest, India
Will evaluate a project in Northern India in December. It will be an outcome harvest done with the project team and community members. We are totally aware that we are sacrificing objectivity for depth, relevance and depth of learning. A good trade-off we reckon.
Project Design Nepal
I’m working with a small project that works on behaviour change with children and schools in eastern Nepal to redesign the project for its next phase. They already use outcome mapping but want to do it better. This design workshop will include time with children, teachers and parents t get their input to the design. I really like the idea that participation means actually getting our participants to help us decide what to do and how.
Outcome Harvest, India
I will lead an outcome harvest for a small team in India with whom I have worked over many years. The whole team will help with data collection, including the accountant. That will be fun, but the big innovation is that we will also work with people from the village, the block office, local health workers etc as part of the evaluation team. It going to be fun.
Using Sensemaker for Mental Health
Currently working with the Cognitive Edge on a Sensemaker app for a mental health project I work with in India. The concept is to get self signified micro narratives from People with Psycho-Social Disability and thus understand their reality and our interventions through their eyes. A really energising mix of IT, medicine, and people skills and contextual understanding and complexity awareness and…
Outcome Mapping Reflection Day
A day with three teams here in North India reflecting on what OM adds and what challenges it brings to small, nimble projects trying to bring social change in Cambodia and India. Highly worthwhile. Direct South-South interchange of knowledge and practise with no rich countries involved is something I really believe in.
Cambodian Team Exposure Visit.
Loving having a team of 8 from a Cambodian NGO visiting India. I have worked with them on Outcome Mapping over there and now they get a chance to visit three different complex, outcome oriented projects here. I am very positive about creating opportunities for people from developing countries to connect and inspire each other without anyone from the global north in between.
Outcome Harvest Indonesia
An Outcome Harvest with team in complex social change in Indonesia in September 2018. They work with people who live with HIV using football boxing and other creative strategies as an entryA new country and a new social space for me.
Teaching Wilderness Medicine-on line
OK, so I still moonlight as a doctor sometimes. Just started a block of teaching wilderness medicine to NZ doctors, on line from India. It's not development, but its always a pleasure working my brain a different way, in this case logically scientifically clinically and a little creatively. And medicine in the West. pays more than Development in India. That's how our planet is constructed.
Reflection day India
With a small team focused on Mental Health in India we reflected on what has and has not worked about the innovative income generations strategies they have tried. I always enjoy time with this team because of the way they think about change (very outcome focused), nuanced reflections and flat management allowing everyone's opinions to surface.
Outcome Mapping Workshop, Nepal,
A four day workshop on complexity and development for 60 staff of a large multidisciplinary development team in Nepal. They see OM as part of their organisational shift to more participatory and responsive development and wider definition of where they work.
Outcome Harvest Cambodia
A two week mid term review of a project in Cambodia done with outcomeharvesting, using a team of Cambodians to collect stories and storing coding and analysing electronically.
Facilitating a course in OM, Bangkok
Wearing my “steward of the Outcome mapping learning Community” hat I co-facilitated an international workshop in OM in Bangkok. Its always fun and stimulating meeting people from different countries, different organisations, different subject areas.
Return to India
I came back to India with my family after 7 months in New Zealand
OH courses in New Zealand.
Presentation to University Development Studies students
Presented to students in Massey University New Zealand where I am a research fellow in the development studies department. Trying to raise questions more than supply answers. (I don’t have any)
Remote Evaluation Pakistan
I am working with a really excellent team in Pakistan to do an Outcome Harvest evaluation from New Zealand. I designed the harvest with the team, they collect data, I analyse and write a report. Ideally I will get to present face to face with them in a few months so that we can all maximise the learning from this event. In a carbon stressed world, increasing my skills in remote evaluation is a major medium term goal of mine.
Managing Relationships, People and Projects
Mariam Smith and I have just finished a suite of four workshops in Cambodia. We started with Outcome Mapping and Outcome Harvesting (see below) and then this week facilitated using a tool on Everyday Political Analysis (EPA). This gives an entry to working for behavior change by starting with understanding the decision making determinants of the person we are working with. Our last course, Managing Outcome Based Development, looked at implications of complexity and complexity aware approaches to how we manage people and processes in development.
Outcome Mapping and Outcome Harvesting, Cambodia
I am in the middle of facilitating workshops in Mondulkiri, North-East Cambodia with Mariam Smith. These are participatory and highly practical. In the "classroom we use games and small groups and role-plays (and a little Power Point) but even more importantly we actually got out and harvested outcomes in Bunong (indigenous) communities around us and discuss what they mean.
I had a glorious day with an NGO I work with listening to their outcome stories and place them into a story of change- where the boundary partner was, where they have got t and where they might be going. Really satisfying to see transformations unfold. E.g. One team summarized their journey with caregivers of unwell people as jagruta-umid-saksham. awareness to hope to empowerment... A fabulous story , and with outcomes to support it.
In New Zealand 2018
WE will be living in New Zealand for the first half of 2018. This is primarily about university, identity and connection for our kids (and time in the mountains with friends for me). However it is also an opportunity for me to work in the very different context and questions of the rich world which sets so much of the development trajectory of our planet.
Enhancing and nuancing strategies
a morning with an NGO I work with thinking through how to enhance our strategies, nuance them and enrich them. To summarize it was about strategically allowing the maximum opportunities for change when we are with boundary partners. This goes from researching our strategies when during our office time to trying things with the partners when we are with them. It all fits into David Snowden's wonderful phrase "facilitate teh emergence of beneficial coherence".
Conferences and workshops in USA and Canada
I leave on 4 November for Washington DC (the heart of darkness?) for the American Evaluation Association conference where I present half day pre-conference workshop on Outcome Mapping and a 90 minute conference session with Bob Williams on Systems thinking and Outcome Harvesting. Then Toronto where Heidi Schaeffer and I facilitate a three day workshop on Outcome Mapping. All challenging, fun, interesting, stimulating ... but leaves a Yeti-esque carbon footprint to mitigate.
Nov 18: Update on AEA and OM in Toronto- very stimulating with lots if ideas, connections and new directions for me.... but I am also so pleased to be back in my Himalayan eerie with my family now.
Adding organic farming to village life
Had a really interesting day with a professor of Organic farming who visited an NGO I work with. Uttarakhand is trying to promote organics satewide and the NGO has experience and expertise... but up against it all are chemical fertilizer merchants and their aggressive marketing. Its a fascinating project, my role being to help find a way to translate technical dimensions of organic farming into behaviour attitudes realationships of village life.
Courses in OM and OH, Cambodia, December 2017.
Though still a way off - December 2017- I am busy with my colleague Mariam Smith preparing three courses in Outcome Mapping, Outcome Harvesting and managing outcome based development. See the full course descriptions here.
Presentation at Wildlife Institute of India.
I presented a session on conservation as a social science on 14 September to masters students at the Wildlife Institute of India. Conservation- scientific problems nested in human contexts- is always complex. We went from interactive games to complexity to population dynamics to case studies to the meaning of life... and had lots of fun. Thanks Dr. Salvador Lyngdoh..
An article I co-authored "Strengthening community mental health competence – a realist informed case study from Dehradun, North India" is now published in the journal "Health and Social Care in the Community". The full details are:
Article ID: HSC12498
Article DOI: 10.1111/hsc.12498
Internal Article ID: 14524678
Article: Strengthening community mental health competence – a realist informed case study from Dehradun, North India
Journal: Health and Social Care in the Community
Corresponding email address: email@example.com
Outcome Mapping for Health. Toronto, November 2017.
Heidi Schaeffer and I will facilitate "Outcome Mapping: Advancing Initiatives for Better Health and Wellbeing" on 13 to 15 November Toronto. This 2 day workshop is an intodocution to Outcome Mapping with focus on health with the option of an additional dayfor participants to practice applying OM to their own context.
Presentation on OH + Systems Thinking. AEA, Washington DC. November 2017
I'll present"Outcome Harvesting with a twist of Systems Thinking? Yes please!" at the American Evaluation Association conference in November in Washington DC USA with Bob Williams . Roughly- to use chess terminology- we present systems thinking as strategy (an overview of the board and its elements) in a complex scenario and Outcome Harvesting as a tactic to "move" within this game's particular configuration.
Outcome Mapping pre-conference workshop, AEA, Washington DC. Nov. 2017
I will present a half day pre-conference workshop at the American Evaluation Conference on Outcome Mapping and. how it can be used in design, monitoring and evaluation for projects particularly those in complex contexts.
Project Design Workshop- August 2017
I am in the midst of organizing a project design workshop for the Afghan mental health team whose project I evaluated in February 2017. It will be an Outcome Mapping design ( ideal for the kind of complexity they work in) but we will also adapt it to a logical framework (beloved of so many funders). The workshop will include two filed visits to other OM projects I have worked with as well as my usual repertoire of games, debates, small groups, a mock evaluation, videos and a little power point. An innovation is that this time the team is coming to me rather than me to them. This is for security reasons as well as filed trips to projects here in India.
Himalayan Holiday- June 2017
Every (northern) summer my family heads deep into the Himalayas. This year, with friends we will cross passes into Zanskar in Indian Kashmir. I will be away mid June to mid July.
Monitoring design-June 2017
An NGO working in mental health has a variety of projects, and we are tailoring a monitoring plan to each. Important dimensions of how we think about each plan are: Is the intervention clear now or will we learn as we go (do we need monitoring as accountability or learning), how long is the project, what is staff capacity (tracking outputs is so much simpler to understand than catching outcomes), how much time do they have, how will we analyze and feed back, who wants the monitoring information... and more. Interesting.
Adapting a proposal-June 2017
With a small integrated livelihood NGO in Uttarakhand we worked together to adapt their Outcome Mapping proposal to the current reality. Continuous iterative change is an essential part of working in complexity but the innovation here is the NGO defining itself as a boundary partner- formally trying to change its own behavior attitudes and relationships along with other actors in the context. There is fascinating reflexivity here. Lets see how it goes.
"Remote Harvest"- May 2017---- POSTPONED------
The Outcome Harvest described below has been postponed. I live in India, the project is in Pakistan- countries which have been simmering a low grade war for decades. Feeling daily Skype contact during data collection (essential from my point of view would raise suspicions they contacted me (May 23) to suggest deferring. My site is called "unpredictable" and I choose to work in complex evolving contexts so accept these things happen. So it goes.
I am to evaluate a project in Pakistan. Evaluations are always interesting but his one especially so because for security and logistics I will not actually visit the project but rather design the evaluation from India, coordinate data collection with the team there then review, analyse and write from home. Understanding the context, communication and logistics will all be challenging.but I'm keen to improve my skills in this. Evaluating electronically keeps my carbon footprint down- a key skill for the modern world..
Monitoring System with a Small Cambodian NGO (April 2017)
A two day workshop with a small outcome based NGO. It is great fun and totally participatory with the whole team under a thatched roof at the beach in Kep. Interesting challenge to work with an organization which fully recognizes behavior attitudes relationships and policies as their monitoring 'target' but whose funders want things like numbers of people who are richer... See the blog "Clueless Feedback"
Community Based adaptation to Climate Change, Malaysia. (April 2017)
Facilitating an interactive two days on climate change as part of a master's course in development residential This is great fun and the range of questions and perspectives from the students is so stimulating..
Outcome Harvesting and Systems Thinking, Afghanistan Feb 2017
Just back from a fascinating challenge working with an NGO in Afghanistan working in mental health, a major need. They are looking for a new way to do things in fraught and fragile context so my brief was more to evaluate what is not there (but might be) than what is there. I combined an Outcome Harvesting philosophy (how do people behave, think, relate and make policy) with a systems thinking approach (looking at perspectives, boundaries and relationships between parts of the system). It turned out to be a great way to understand the context and explore new pathways.
Facilitating on-line discussion "Outcome Mapping and Complexity" Jan 2017
Development in complexity- how to make contributions in spaces where we can't clearly predict the effect of interventions.- is close to my heart. I am facilitating a discussion on the Outcome Mapping Learning Community website on this subject over January and February. Lets see where it gets to.
"Conservation is a Social Science"- presentation to NCF, Bangalore. Jan 2017
I presented "Conservation as a Social Science" to Nature Conservation Foundation (NCF) in Bangalore. The minimum viable population of dolphins in an Orissa lake or grazing strategies of snow leopard prey species are biology but questions about how to protect or enhance the populations of these wondrous creatures, or safeguard the environments on which they depend are only slightly influenced by natural science. Conservation is mostly about changing the dynamics of the human societies in which these biological systems are nested. With NCF we all shook up these ideas together. Fun!
Facilitating on OM technical course, Brussels Dec 2016
I am facilitating on the International Outcome Mapping Learning Community course on design, monitoring and evaluation in Brussels, from December 5 to 7 2016. I enjoy getting people to think around concepts and will enjoy this event
Monitoring plan for community mental health- on going
I work with a team on community mental health competence - the ability of a community understand, accept and move forward with its members who suffer from mental health disability. This involves psychiatry and neurotransmitters but in poor India stigma, inclusion, government services, corruption, employment opportunities and relationships between various strata in society is much more important. Right now we are designing a monitorign system that captures the insights of community workers in the ground, gathers and collates the information from various teams and analyses and dispalys using qualitative research software. Its all very complex, and therefore great fun.
Strategy with a small NGO on going
Working with a small NGO near where I live on the external factors and team dimensions that mitigate their work. I have a long term relationship with this NGO, and this is an ongoing process.
BMJ blog on Poverty Oct 6
I was delighted to get this piece on the BMJ blog. Poverty and inequality is for me the biggest health issue on our planet. The biggest development issue in fact. Read the piece here: http://blogs.bmj.com/bmj/2016/10/06/jeph-mathias-the-human-face-of-inequality/
Steering Group meeting, Community Mental Health Competence project Sept '16
Project Burans is a community mental health project in four locations around Dehradun and Mussoorie. I've helped with design and monitoring of this OM projectThis meeting to strategically assess where we have reached and plan for where we want to get to and how included community members with their own stories of mental illness, community workers, project officers, an international mental health nurse and a volunteer, a highly articulate woman with schizophrenia from Pune, an Australian international health doctor and New Zealand/Indian project director. A real challenge to facilitate useful contributions from such a diverse, stimulating, group, each with their own perspective and lots of fun for me to participate.
Outcome Harvest Afghanistan- postponed Sept '16
I was booked to work with a mental health project trying to unravel achievements and explore new ways forward. Unfortunately despite two attempts I was not able to get a visa so we have postponed, but not canceled the evaluation.
"Thinking out of the Box" with UNFPA Aug '16
A four hour session on August 26 with UNFPA on different approaches to Development. Using games, Power Point, small groups, videos and discussion we covered the relationship between development and culture, systems thinking, complexity and outcome mapping as a useful tool for complexity.
Development in Complexity Workshop with Change Alliance- Aug '16
A two day workshop on Development in Complexity covering what complexity is, why that's relevant to development and ideas on how to work with it.
"Conservation as a Social Science "-Presentation to Wildlife Institute India Aug '16
I presented to masters students and staff at WII in Dehradun on "Conservation as a Social Science " on August 17. It was interactive and good fun for us all, essentially saying that every conservation project is nested in a wider human landscape and we have to work socially and politically with that as well as biologically or ecologically at the local scale. I hope it changed some participants world views.
Outcome Mapping Sharing Day Aug '16
Facilitated a day of sharing lessons learned, challenges and ideas with three OM projects I have been involved with. Two were Indian projects, one team came from Nepal. This fulfilled a long cherished dream- to see local networks of Outcome focused projects learning and supporting each other. This was a start.
Wilderness Medicine Teaching- Online
I am an online instructor for a postgraduate wilderness medicine course for doctors in New Zealand. It is unlike most of the other things I am involved in, but I love it for forcing me to think in a different way. It's good fun.
OMLC Steward-July '16
July 2016: I was invited and of course accepted a position as a steward for the Outcome Mapping Learning community (OMLC). The OMLC is an association of practitioners and a resource base for people using Outcome Mapping, a philosophy and tool set I use extensively in complex development. I am delighted to have the chance to contribute to this group. See http://www.outcomemapping.ca/about/stewards
Monitoring plan- Mental Health Project, India. July '16
Worked 13 July with a team in India using Outcome Mapping to link all activities to strategies to outcome challenges to the projects overall vision. We will develop a database of outcomes (changes in behaviour attitude relationships and policies) and analyse it with a qualitative data analysis software package. This will be fed back into the project so that it can change iteratively in response to its context. I am excited to see this evolve.
Outcome Harvest Cambodia July/August '16
I did an outcome harvest from 15 July to 6 august in Cambodia. An innovation this time was qualitative research software NVivo which used to code and group the stories to help us extract meaning. Alongside this I had an evaluation team of 4 project staff and 4 community members. I found this so stimulating- a participatory evaluation combining the depth and nuance of locals with the analytic power of fancy software. Really enjoyed it.
Strategy Maps, India
I worked with an NGO in India going from a vision to the ideal behaviour attitudes and relationships for those with whom they work (Boundary Partners in the jargon). We then drew up strategy maps and activity plans (what each team member actually does) to realise those outcomes. Thus everyone has planned activities designed to contribute to changes in behaviour, attitudes, relationships or policies (outcomes) of defined individuals or groups (boundary partners). Such activities really are strategic.