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What Can Systems Thinkers Learn From an Evaluation Mindset? | Cameron D. Norman + Tara Campbell | Systems Thinking Ontario 2024-02-12

At the 118th meeting of Systems Thinking Ontario in February 2024, behavioral scientist Cameron D. Norman and design strategist Tara Campbell were invitied for a conversation guided by Zaid Khan.  The panelists are both alumni of the Strategic Foresight and Innovation program at OCADU.  Some time ago, they had conducted a research project on evaluation together, so this event was an opportunity for them to catch up at a relaxed pace.

As usual, participants had a round of self-introductions.   The panelists were guided through a conversation in three parts with focus questions, and participants were invited to offer their reflections and insights.  One linkage to modes of systems thinking was the distinction in approach by interest, e.g. Principles-Focused Evaluation, c.f. Developmental Evaluation.

This recording of the session is available on Youtube, as well as on the Internet Archive .

Video H.264 MP4
February 12
(1h53m)
[20240212_ST-ON_EvaluationMindset CameronDNorman_TaraCampbell.m4v
(1920×1080 1333kbps 1.16GB)
[on the Internet Archive]

A standalone audio was also created during the meeting.

Audio
February 12
(1h53m)
[20240212_ST-ON_EvaluationMindset CameronDNorman_TaraCampbell.m4a]
(126kbps, 103 MB)
[on the Internet Archive]

The gist of the description is below, with pre-readings linked on the original abstract.


— begin excerpt —

Systems thinkers often seek to affect systems through their ideas and actions, but how do we know we’ve made a difference? How might we measure what matters in ways that respect the various dynamics at play in often complicated and complex systems? What do we need to consider when looking to understand the implications of what we do?

In this session, we’ll host Cameron Norman and Tara Campbell in conversation to learn about how they approach evaluation: a transdisciplinary approach to understanding the implications of what we make and do. The pair will discuss their experiences applying an evaluation mindset to their work and beyond. They’ll also discuss how this mindset shapes approaches to the design and measurement of systems change, where the unmeasurable matters.

Together, we’ll explore what we can learn from the field of evaluation and how an evaluative mindset can enhance how we understand how systems function and what it means to affect change in systems. We’ll connect systems thinking, design, and evaluation and ask questions about what it means to change systems and how we might know if we made a difference through our efforts.

— end excerpt  —


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