At the Center for Evaluation Innovation, our mission is to push the evaluation field forward in new directions. This often means we're doing things we've never done before, like using systems mapping in our evaluation work. In an earlier blog post, Daniel introduced the systems map for the Madison Initiative and the rationale for creating it. Now that the first draft is public (and open for comments!), we have some early thoughts about using systems mapping as an evaluation tool.
First, to set the context: We are conducting a developmental evaluation of the Madison Initiative's initial phase of experimentation, learning, and field building. Our role is to be a "critical friend" to the strategy team, asking tough evaluative questions, uncovering assumptions, and collecting and interpreting data that inform ongoing strategic decisions. This role deeply affects our choice of evaluation questions, tools, and methods, starting with our choice to use a systems map rather than a theory of change to guide our evaluation work.