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Standing on the shoulders of giants

Here is a collection of thinkers, theories , tools and friends who inspire us, and can hopefully inspire you too!


Jeph Mathias

Jeph is one of the craziest evaluators we know, diving into complexity with uncommon zeal! We often work with Jeph and always grow from his depth and challenging perspectives. Find our more on his site:


"I'll take any human/environment  development challenge thrown at me, the more complex the better! Work with small, nimble teams in rapidly changing, dynamic contexts energises me especially if its in one of our planet's difficult to reach corners. "

Communities of Practice

The Outcome Mapping Learning Community is an active online community discussing topics around outcome and organisational learning. You can also become a member by checking out the website here.  


The Outcome Harvesting Forum is very helpful in learning from others with experiences in Outcome Harvesting. Find out how to register here.


LEAD Community of Practice. For those of you working in multi-cultural contexts, and especially in areas where indigenous people live, we recommend being connected with SIL. LEAD Asia hosts a exploring identity-based community development, mother-tongue based multilingual education, orthography development, ethnomusicology and much more. Find out more here.

Specific Tools and Approaches


Outcome Mapping - a tool helpful for designing and monitoring work in complex contexts

Outcome Harvesting - a tool useful for harvesting changes in behaviour among actors (for evaluation or even more integrated into an organisation’s learning)


Most Significant Change is an excellent tool for exploring values, finding outcomes, impact, and contributions you never were aware of. The tool makes values visible both among different levels of organisations working with change and among the target communities.


Everyday Political Analysis - a tool that makes political analysis more accessible to programme staff.


Appreciative Inquiry - a tool that learns from and builds on the strengths of an organisation or a community. Supports the building of trust relations and working from cultural and inherent knowledge.


Graphic facilitation and the use of Arts - We find that the arts can be good tools for exploring assumptions that do not come up in normal conversation. The use of arts can be an important tool in facilitating various processes in organisations.


Liberating Structures - a suite of facilitation tools  which help unleash the power of conversation!

Integrating technology with qualitative data - We have some experiences integrating technology (e.g. Nvivo, Dedoose, cloud data collaboration, Podio, Mural) in various ways and are happy to explore options with you.

Theories and Thinkers...


  • Public pedagogy as necessary for democracy. How do we create/maintain a society with public spaces, with dialogue?  How do we become aware of the public pedagogies at work in society?

  • Paolo Freire—grappling with central issues of power relationships and participation in education/development work, acknowledging responsibilities on both the “oppressor” and the “oppressed”

  • John Dewey—seeing learning as continuously exploring what we want with our society and reflecting and having dialogue about experience/action. What we know cannot be isolated from how we know it and in what circumstances. Seeing each learner in a holistic way recognises the importance of diversity and each unique context. Communication is important for freedom.

  • Donald Schön—single and double loop learning- testing assumptions, integrating reflection in action.

  • Etienne Wenger and Jean Lave—allowing space for formal and informal communities of practice around common enterprises- this is where learning and legitimate peripheral learning can take place. The importance of understanding negotiations that take place around identities, around culture, and how reifications, or artefacts that we use, can become part of this negotiation in an organisation. Exciting stuff!

  • James V. Wertsch—the potential of learning/changed behaviour through the use of various cultural tools and through giving different roles to people. Reflection on the affordances and constraints of each tool.

  • Lauvås and Handal—that effective learning takes place in coaching/mentoring/supervising through a warm, and supportive pedagogy, not a set of right answers.

  • Helen Timperley—involving persons/groups at all levels of a learning system in cycles of learning. These cycles relate to the persons they are “leading” as well as the learning of the target group in mind, i.e. students in a school setting.

  • Stacey—that if we want to see change, conversation is important. We cannot control organisational change, but we can start and make room for conversation! Each conversation becomes part of a continued complex responsive process.

  • Social constructivism— that truths and realities can be very different, depending on perspectives, contexts which have constructed these truths and realities.

  • Systems thinking and complexity thinking (Snowden, Hummelbrummer, Williams, etc.)—that the various relationships, boundaries, and perspectives of people in a context make it dynamic and interrelated, and consequently make work towards social change in such a context unpredictable!

  • Doing Development Differently- movements from best practice to best fit and adaptive management requiring learning.

  • Jayakuma Christian/Bryant Myers—the idea of poverty being related to people having marred identities; people needing restored relationships with themselves, with each other, with nature, and with God.

  • Student-centred/participant centred learning—pragmatic ways to deal with the roles of participants and reflect on facilitation!

  • Robert Chambers—The many tools for participatory methods needing an approach that believes in the participants own ability to analyse, decide, and take action on their needs.

  • Jim Cummins—the power dynamics associated with linguistic and cultural diversity.  How paying attention to linguistic and cultural diversity provides the basis for effective education and a healthy society for all (not just the minorities of a context).

  • Michael Quinn Patton—thoroughly describes how developmental and utility-focused evaluation is able to transform practice by being useful, timely, and paying attention to power dynamics.

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