Introduction to Developmental Evaluation

Developmental Evaluation (DE) offers a powerful approach for tracking and assessing innovations in complex situations. It is a process that requires but also encourages stronger relationships between social innovators and key decision makers. If you find yourself involved in the very beginning or a changing phase of a project, DE might be something that could make a world of difference to the impact you can achieve. It can be used for a range of purposes: supporting program development, developing new and innovative models, adapting effective practice to local contexts and scaling innovations.

DE is very useful to initiatives that need support for on-going development, quick adaptation, and useful experimentation. DE helps these teams to be keenly sensitive to unintended results and side effects and to quickly use their own learning for more impact. The evaluator does this by infusing team discussions with good questions, thinking and data. Ideally in DE, the evaluator is considered, not separate, but a key member of a initiative or innovation team that is collaborating to imagine, design and test new approaches for significant change.