Evaluations and Outcomes: Working with Emergent Processes

One of the great challenges of the kind of work I and others are doing is figuring out how to measure our progress. We often have fundors involved who want to know what our metrics are, but more importantly our communities themselves need to know if their efforts are effective. All to often our work is sidelined when someone says where’s your strategic plan? Many of us don’t believe in strategic planning. We say show me a plan that was actually followed and that was helpful. But, still, we don’t have much that we work with instead. Sure, we follow our intuition and we’re good at using conversation and other tools. But it feels insufficient.

And I am so tired of hearing if you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll never get there . What does it mean to work with making the path by walking on it? How do we get collective reassurance that we’re headed in the right direction and not just spinning our wheels? One insight I had a few years ago was that in our new ways of working, we measure from the inside out. Rather than having a fixed set of reference points (goals and objectives) constructed in advance, we’re actually called on to learn how to watch what is actually happening in order to understand the direction that is emerging from within our system and then we have to talk about what that direction means.

What thoughts and experience do you have with new ways to evaluate and measure

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