Program Design Program Evaluation Speaking

Presentation recap for my AEA 2015 (#eval15) Presentations on #ProgDes

AEA 2015 was a special one for me for it was the first time the concept of program design got traction. I presented with fellow design-minded evaluators in two sessions.

In the first one, I reported on my experience of embedding design principles into a developmental evaluation. The presentation was entitled,  Lessons-learned from embedding design into a developmental evaluation: The significance of power, ownership, and organizational culture. And, here’s the abstract:  

Recent attempts at developmental evaluation (DE) are incorporating human-centered design (HCD) principles (Dorst, 2011; IDEO, n.d.) to facilitate program development. HCD promotes a design-oriented stance toward program development and articulates a set of values that focuses the evaluation beyond those ideals expressed by stakeholders. Embedding design into DE promises to offer a more powerful means to promoting program development beyond either approach alone. Yet, embedding design into DE introduces additional challenges. Drawing on a case study into a design-informed DE, this panelist discusses the tensions and challenges that arose as one developmental evaluator attempted to introduce design into a DE. Insights from the case study point to the importance of:

– Attending to power dynamics that could stifle or promote design integration; and,

– Evaluator sensitivity over the deep attachment program developers had over program decisions

These findings allude to the significance of organizational culture in enabling a design-informed DE.

In the second presentation, Chithra Adams (@ChithraAdams), John Nash (@jnash), Beth Rous (@bethrous), and I discussed how principles of human-centered design could be applied to the development of programs.

Specifically, we introduced two design exercises–Journey Mapping, and User Archetyping–as means to bringing human-centered design principles into program design and evaluation.

In an upcoming post, we’ll take a deep dive into these design exercises and examine their application to program design.

Are you curious about program design? Have you any particular questions about its methods and methodologies that you’d like us to write about? Drop me a note below or find me on Twitter @chiyanlam, where I curate tweets on evaluation, design, social innovation, and creativity.

Until next time. Onwards!


PD-TIG #EVAL15 Panel: Huey, Gargani, Stead, & Norman on Program Design: Evaluation’s New Frontier?

I’m really looking forward to #EVAL15 because this will be the first year that the conference will feature a program track in program design. Here’s a look at the full agenda.
I am especially looking forward to the PD TIG-sponsored panel,  “Program Design: Evaluation’s New Frontier?”. The session will feature:
The panelists been asked to consider what program design could mean in the context of evaluation theory and practice. The goal of the session is to attempt to arrive at an initial articulation of what program design could mean in terms of theory and practice.
Here’s the abstract: Notions of design have entered the mainstream in both public and private sectors. Underpinning this shift is an emerging realization that the once-professionalized approaches and mindsets designers employ to solve complex problems may be applied to other contexts. Bridging evaluation with design holds potential to reconceptualize both the theories and practices of evaluation, and as a consequence, enhance evaluation influence.  This panel of expert evaluators draws on their theoretical and practical experiences to explore what ‘program design’ could mean for evaluators and evaluation practice.
 Without giving too much of the plan away, the speakers will be responding to the following prompts:
  • How have you come to ‘program design’? What do you mean by it?
  • What potential do you see in program design in enhancing evaluation, if at all? What hazards do you see in evaluators engaging in program design?
  • Are there any dangers in evaluators assuming the role of a program designer? Is there not a risk of cooptation?
  • What competencies or skills do you see as critical to doing PD work? How might newcomers go about learning these skills?
  • If there is potential in program design, what might be next step toward growing or legitimizing its practice? What should we strive to understand better? What might this body of knowledge be comprised of?
 It promises to be an exciting panel. This session has been scheduled for November 12th, 2015 (3:00PM – 4:30PM) in “Field”. Come for the panel and stay for the business meeting, which will be short!
 See the session details in full here:
See you there!

On launching the Program Design Topical Interest Group

I recently wrote about our motivation behind starting a Topical Interest Group (TIG) on Program Design on AEA365.

Our interest in organizing the PD-TIG grew out of a casual conversation. We (Karen Widmer, Terence Fitzgerald, and I) realized that we each held responsibilities for program design in our respective practice. We were inspired by the potential for infusing evaluative thinking and evidence into program development, and in doing so, evaluators might further contribute to clients’ goals of developing robust, impactful programs. However, even among ourselves, we had differing perspectives on what this might look like in practice. As a group, we were inspired by Gargani and Donaldson’s work on program design, Patton’s work on developmental evaluation, and more generally, writing on theory-driven evaluation. We said to ourselves: Wouldn’t it be great if we could get together with others who might share our passion and curiosity about program design?

It’s been over two years since that initial conversation, and it has taken a lot of work behind-the-scene to get the TIG up and running.

I am most excited by the idea that the TIG can engage the broader evaluation community on program design than individuals alone.

New this year to the annual AEA conference is the program design track to the program. A program schedule can be found on the PD-TIG web site.

In an upcoming post, I’ll profile an all-star panel session being organized during the PD-TIG Business Meeting. It features Dr. Huey Chen, Dr. John Gargani, Brenda Stead, and Dr. Cam Norman as panelists.

Until then, onwards!