Lots of energy and thinking is focused on better understanding what “good” systems work looks like and what the best practices around measuring impact in this type of work are. Tamarack Institute’s “Evaluating Systems Change: A Results-Based-Framework” webinar featuring Mark Cabaj, is a useful resource to broaden knowledge around what “results” at the systems level means, as well as what evaluative approaches should be considered when we want to measure the impact of systems change work.
Some key highlights:
- In systems change work, “Learning” should not be understood as simply a means or process by which the work is done. Rather, learning should be a strategic outcome in and of itself. Understanding learning as just a process can be too narrow.
- Outcomes in systems change work need to “shift the system”. Without elevating learning to an outcome level, we risk reporting our learnings superficially instead of meaningfully demonstrating how the work was adapted and shifted in light of the learnings.
- Systems change work needs to follow a framework of “ACT-REACT-and, ADAPT”
- Because systems change work is always adapting, all evaluation findings should be understood as a “snapshot” in time.
- No systems change framework is completely “right”, however, there are many frameworks that are useful to employ