What's in the air for me right now?
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.
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".
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.