evaluation, design, monitoring, capacity
Though presented individually design, monitoring, evaluation, capacity building and even training are for me a continuum. I have one speciality only: understanding contexts, understanding development, putting them together practically and communicating creatively about what emerges..
Evaluation demands looking deeply-through my eyes, the project's 'eyes' and most importantly participants’ eyes. I'm skilled in asking deep questions of a context, synthesising, analysing and presenting insights clearly and creatively. Aimed at answering current questions and exploring ways forward for me evaluation is not a discreet event but part of a continuum from conception through design to monitoring.
I bring to evaluations a history of work in human/environment problems in challenging contexts plus qualifications in development, medicine, ecology and GIS. I communicate well individually and to groups and work in Hindi, Spanish and Portuguese as well as English. I have designed and evaluated in India, Nepal, Cambodia, Brazil, Colombia. I have expertise in Outcome Harvesting, an evaluation technique inspired by the Outcome Mapping philosophy. I’ve found this particularly useful in evaluating complex contexts.-
Deep communication pre-evaluation is critical to a good evaluation, so please contact me well before your proposed start date. For more see:
Good project design is about finding an intervention where a team's maximum contribution to the desired change best intersects with its own values, vision and skills . This involves understanding the context well, identifying critical points and designing an ideal intervention, but also requires that the team understand itself deeply, define its values and vision, its strengths and where it needs greater capacity.
I love working with teams at the design stage. I have been part of design many times for projects I have worked in and for others. I am good at analysis and other strengths are synthesis, communication and particularly creative facilitation. I'm experienced in Outcome Mapping, a project design particularly applicable to complex contexts
Please contact me if you would like to know about projects I have helped design or if you would like to know more about Outcome Mapping.
Monitoring is the art of letting the context ask its own questions and priming a project to listen, continuously respond and question itself. It requires the project identify what they need to look at and listen to, have skills to gather that, put time into understanding what they find systematise and store the answers, extract meaning then reflectively modify action based on the unfolding world around it. Monitoring is critical to all projects in changing contexts (for me that's all development projects) because they demand continuous adaptation. Every step (working out the right questions, asking them, capturing the answers, extracting meaning and iteratively modifying the project) is subtle. All are critical. A monitoring system is useful only if all the steps are adequately addressed.
Increasingly I see monitoring as the heart and soul of development- Knowing what change one is trying to contribute to, how to recognise it and how to iteratively modify a programme in response to what is (or is not) happening is essential. I enjoy working with teams to set up and use monitoring systems in their context. An exciting integration of clear development thinking and modern technology is field staff using phones or tablets to easily capture data, feed it into electronic systems that automatically analyse and quickly feed back to project direction. Another innovation is qualitative research software to find commonalities and hidden connections. I love being part of the interaction between people and Information technology.
The team itself is a project’s biggest resource in a complex context. Higher team capacity always translates to better contribution to the vision. As a good teacher and facilitator I enjoy work with teams on skills and understanding from workshops on theoretical dimensions of complexity to practical courses in Outcome Mapping. I am interactive and participatory in my teaching and extensively use problem solving and games. We always have fun.
As well as training on complexity and Outcome Mapping I do team building to help teams understand and work with each other better. I have also taught alpine skills and wilderness first aid in remote mountainous situations using the same skills- interactive problem based learning and good facilitation.
I am increasingly being asked to talk about and teach development in the global North and developing world settings. Though not my primary work I enjoy these opportunities because they force me to step out, reflect deeply about what happens "at the coalface", how and why and find ways to transmit that clearly and creatively. Recent examples are two days on Climate Change andComplexity for a development masters course in Malaysia (April 2017) a three hour session on "Thinking out of the Box" for UNFPA in Delhi, "Development in Complexity" over two days for Change Alliance and an afternoon session on "Conservation as a Social Science" for the Wildlife Institute of India in Dehradun. Other examples are two presentations at the AEA conference November 2015, a workshop on complexity with a large Indian development consultancy and a three day event in New Zealand organised through Massey University on Development and Complexity (Feb 2016) . I see my challenge as meeting participants 'where they are at' so my workshops are never one-way, output-focused didactic teaching. I typically include games, problem solving, small groups, more games, videos, debates, perhaps a little Powerpoint and did I mention games? Its all designed to let an iterative, two way exchange of ideas and axioms unfold between me and all the other participants. The result? Unpredictable emergent learning - just like the rest of my work.