Creative Evaluation

Creative Evaluation

At Inspire to Change, we support purpose-driven change and changemakers in a variety of ways, including through Creative EvaluationCreative Evaluation (CE) discovers impact by combining elements of developmental evaluation, principles-focused evaluation, and arts-based evaluation to understand highly complex human systems and work towards understanding and solving difficult social issues. Developmental evaluation examines how human systems operate in dynamic, novel environments with complex interactions, focusing on innovation and strategic learning. Principles-focused evaluation examines whether the principles that inform and guide our decisions are clear, meaningful, and actionable, whether they are followed, and whether they are leading to desired results. Arts-based evaluation examines how human cultures encode wisdom and values in the arts, and is especially effective in capturing emotional and cultural realities. 

DEVELOPMENTAL EVALUATION

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Announcement: New Creative Evaluation Course Coming Soon!

 

Hi, everyone! I'm excited to tell you about the new course I'm creating. Stay tuned for updates via our newsletter and social media.

xoxo

nora

 


Nora Murphy Johnson is a teacher, coach, healer, and evaluator for soul-driven change work. Her top three coaching topics include (1) helping you identify and live into your personal, professional, and organizational guiding principles; (2) developing principles-driven strategic visions for social change; and (3) developing principles-driven arts-infused learning and evaluation plans (Creative Evaluation & Engagement). You can reach Nora at [email protected].

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Empathy, the Arts, and the Brain By A. Rafael Johnson

People often ask me about empathy, the arts, and the brain. Before I share my thinking, I need to make three caveats: one, I'm a novelist, not a brain scientist. I read a lot of neurology papers, but I don't have any formal training in neuroscience. Two, most of these studies indicate "activity" by determining which areas of the brain light up (using functional MRI scans) during specific activities. However, correlation is not the same as causation. A part of the brain could activate to control a process, or in reaction to something else we don't understand or can't detect yet. This branch of science is very new (10-15 years), so there are a lot of unknowns. Three--the brain seems to work in circuits and feedback loops. While some processes may be dominant in certain brain areas, scientists are finding more and more complex interactions within the brain. For example, metaphor comprehension resides in six parts of the brain. Think less 'center' and more 'network'.

 

A major...

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Art as an “Emotional Contagion” By A. Rafael Johnson

You’ve probably experienced emotional contagion before: that thrill of excitement you feel in the stands just before a sporting event begins; the fear that courses through you as you wander with friends through a haunted house at the fair; or just knowing that if your best friend cries, you will too. 

 

So what is emotional contagion?

“Smile and the world smiles with you.” Emotional contagion is a physiological phenomenon, where emotion in one person transfers automatically to another without conscious intervention from either party.

 

How does emotional contagion work?

When I pick up a glass of water, my brain does several things automatically, including locating the glass in 3-dimensional space, as well as estimating weight, size, temperature, and other dimensions. Then the brain tells my body how to act: how to orient my hand, how far to reach out, how much pressure to exert so I can hold the glass without breaking it or dropping it, and how much...

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AEA365: Unpacking Work and Labor by A. Rafael Johnson

A. Rafael Johnson talked about how the complicated history of the word "work" and why we need to consider its origins and current use. On AEA365

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Eval Cafe Episode 32: Evaluation Games With Friends

“What does evaluation offer and what does evaluation need in times of great uncertainty and injustice?” Nora Murphy Johnson and A. Rafael Johnson from Inspire to Change and Chris Corrigan from Harvest Moon Consulting talk about certainty and uncertainty, arts-based evaluation, transformation, and grant cycles. 

 

Eval Cafe Episode 32

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Navigating Uncertainty: Theory + Practice = Praxis by Wendy Morris

Last month I was in London at Roffey Park Institute, a research-based center for leadership and organizational development, as part of the facilitation team for the 54th cohort of the Human Systems Dynamics (HSD) certification program. In these increasingly unpredictable and complex times, when the chaos can feel bigger than we can handle, it helps to have a solid praxis – an integrated base of theory and practice – that enables us to more effectively adapt and innovate. Rooted in chaos and complexity theory, HSD offers models to recognize patterns in the midst of the mess, and methods to act and shift systems that we can’t predict or control. 

Our HSD Institute team convened in the UK with 31 participants from 18 countries for the foundation week of a four-month program of face-to-face and online learning. Through this program we support those in the work of making change, resolving conflict, or helping groups and individuals thrive in uncertainty.

A favorite...

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How we think about data and data use By A. Rafael Johnson

The conventional way of looking at data is very effective at keeping the complex and messy lives of people as far from power as possible. It says that the highly educated and wealthy define the problems, solutions, and measures of success. Everything that falls outside of these pre-definitions is unreliable, un-measurable, unverifiable, or untrustworthy. That way keeps wealth in the hands of philanthropy and industry, decisions in the mouths of policymakers, and knowledge in the academy. That way maintains the status quo.

But what if we don’t maintain the status quo? What if we challenge these ideas about data? What if, instead of using our methods to create and use reliable datasets so people can trust in our analyses and make data-driven decisions, what if we start with trust and see what happens? What if we start by trusting the people in the communities we work with, and then create the conditions that lets them trust us? What if they're the ones making decisions based on...

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Labor Day Week: Laboring to Make Evaluation More Welcoming, Equitable, and Inclusive

See the original post on the AEA365 blog: https://aea365.org/blog/labor-day-week-laboring-to-make-evaluation-more-welcoming-equitable-and-inclusive-by-nora-murphy-johnson/

I’m Nora Murphy Johnson, CEO of Inspire to Change. In my role as co-curator of this week’s post on the labor of evaluation, I dug deep into Robert Ingle Service Award archives. What did I learn? I learned that the evaluation profession is shaped by members who hold a vision for what evaluation could be, and use their energies, voice, and power to make that vision a reality. Often, this centers on building a professional community that is more welcoming, equitable, and inclusive. They argue that these qualities are essential to evaluation use and rigor.

These four award winners demonstrate how people can work towards a community and practice that is more welcoming, equitable, and inclusive.

Molly Engle, 2009

Molly Engle focused on community-based evaluations, using what she learned...

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Contribution, Leadership, and Renewal: Perspective from a Path Less Traveled

See the original post on the AEA365 blog: https://aea365.org/blog/contribution-leadership-and-renewal-perspective-from-a-path-less-traveled-by-a-rafael-johnson/

My name is A. Rafael Johnson, Director of Creative Evaluation and Engagement, an initiative of Inspire to Change. I’m a novelist, and I’d like to tell you a story of how I came to be an evaluator without training as an evaluator.

In 2010 I taught yoga to a blind orphan in Liberia. I’d arrived as a USAID subcontractor. My NGO was charged with helping rebuild the education system after the end of their long civil war. I reduced the national student:textbook ratio from 5 students per textbook to 4, taught classes of former refugees and combatants, and created a service-learning program. All of this went into the quarterly M&E reports. But in my off-hours, I also worked to get homeless former child soldiers to attend a literacy program, helped college staff learn to...

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