Complexity and Evaluation — latest developments

Complexity and Evaluation — latest developments

Dr Dione Hills asks — how can a better understanding of complexity have an impact on the way we think?

People are waking up to the realisation that a better understanding of complexity — and of how complex adaptive systems behave — can have quite profound implications for the way they think about, plan, manage and evaluate their activities. 

New books, journal articles, training, webinars and guidance, setting out what ‘complexity informed’ practice might look like, come out each month. The first months of 2020 will be particularly significant, with the publication of a revised ‘Magenta Book’ (cross-government guidance on policy evaluation) with a special annex on complex policy evaluation, a new ‘Complex Evaluation Framework’ to inform evaluation practice at Defra and revised guidance from the Medical Research Council on developing and evaluating complex interventions in the health field. A special issue of the ‘Evaluation’ journal in the spring will feature thinking and case studies examples emerging from work at CECAN (Centre for Evaluation Complexity Across the Nexus).

But what does all this mean for you and your work? 

This lunchtime talk by Dr Dione Hills (Principal Researcher/ Consultant, TIHR) provides an opportunity to hear about some of these developments, and reflect on how this might change how you think about, plan, manage or evaluate your own activities — or perhaps confirm that you had it right all along, but the world hadn’t yet come to appreciate this.

Recording of the talk

Speaker’s bio

Dr Dione Hills was involved in evaluation and consultancy activities at the Tavistock Institute for over 30 years. For the last few years of her life, she took a lead in the Tavistock Institute’s partnership with CECAN, contributing to guidance documents such as the Magenta book complexity evaluation guidance, to training activities and workshops and several blogs. She had a strong interest in what it takes to help people think through the implications of complexity in their work, and how a complexity focus varies in the way it shows up in different fields: environmental policy and practice, public health, in how we address the factors that cause severe and multiple disadvantage and the work of charitable trusts.

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