September 2019 Newsletter

Systems in Evaluation TIG

 September 2019 Newsletter



Leadership Team Notes

Hello, Systems in Evaluation TIG Members!

As we move out of the dog days of summer, the SETIG leadership has been busy. In this newsletter you will learn about the proposal review process that we went through in May, a SETIG member survey that we will be conducting this fall, elections for TIG leadership positions, information about an exciting new initiative (the Lineages Project), and the introduction of a new newsletter feature—the Members’ Corner. Please read all the way through, and think thoughts of fall!

We’ll be looking forward to seeing many of you during the AEA 2019 annual meeting in Minneapolis in November. Until, then, stay frosty! (or toasty if you are in the Southern Hemisphere)

Best wishes,

The Systems in Evaluation TIG Leadership Team

Marah and Emily, Co-Chairs

Pablo and Jeneen, Program Co-Chairs

Update on Proposal Review Process

This year, we received a total of 40 proposals. Due to AEA limits for certain categories, we could only accept seven proposals for each of the 45-minute and 60-minute slots plus three posters. We hit some snags getting the review process started on time, but because we had such a great team of volunteers, we were able to still complete everything in record time. The program is now available on the conference website. Go to the program listings for the Systems in Evaluation TIG to see the overall schedule by day or search by TIG or presenter to find more specific sessions.

Many, many thanks to those who offered their time and expertise to review proposals – especially those who volunteered to pitch in at the last moment to ensure that we maintained our standards for reviewing. We look forward to having you volunteer again for next year. And, for those who have just joined or never reviewed, we encourage you first-timers to volunteer as well.

Election Time for TIG Officers

Winds of change blow at the SETIG as we will be saying goodbye to Marah as TIG Co-Chair and to Pablo as Program Co-Chair. That means we are looking for nominations to fill these positions for three-year terms. Nominations or self-nominations are due by Sunday, October 6 2019. New chairs take office on January 1, 2020.

If you would like to submit either a nomination or self-nomination, please send an email to by 11:59 pm (Eastern US time) Sunday, October 6 2019. Please include the following with your email:

      • Name
      • Address
      • Email address and phone (for contact only, will not be published on ballot)
      • Position(s) nominated for (see positions descriptions below)
      • A brief statement (150 words or less) on what you, or the candidate you are nominating, would like to bring to the role and to leadership of the TIG. This statement will be included in the slate of candidates for voting.
      • A headshot to be included in slate of candidates


TIG Co-Chairs are responsible for convening the TIG Business Meeting at the annual conference. They are also responsible for overseeing the planning and development of any TIG activities outside of the annual meeting. The TIG Program Co-Chairs are responsible for managing the submission and review process each spring and for working in consultation with the TIG leadership team to plan the TIG’s business meeting during the annual conference.

All nominations and self-nominations will receive a follow-up email confirming willingness to have their name placed on the ballot.

The election will be held via online survey from Monday, October 14 through Monday, October 28, 2019. On October 14th, TIG members will receive an email election notice that will include a link to the ballot. Please note: only TIG members may vote in the election. An election announcement will be posted to the SETIG website but the actual link to the ballot may only be obtained through email. If you do not receive your link to the ballot, contact Jan Noga to receive a link.

This is a great way to get more deeply involved with the work of the TIG and AEA more generally, continue to learn and help others learn about Systems in Evaluation, and share your enthusiasm. Please consider nominating somebody (with their permission, of course), or even nominating yourself!

We are looking forward to working with you in shaping this vibrant community. And, of course, feel free to reach out to any members of the current TIG leadership team if you need further explanation or have doubts or concerns. You will find contact information for us on the TIG website.

TIG Membership Needs Assessment Survey

Have you ever wondered what being a SETIG member means? Have you ever wished you could get more involved or see some of your brilliant ideas put into action? You’re about to get your chance!

In October/November, we will be launching a membership survey to hear what sort of activities and products you think the SETIG should be focusing on that will be useful and engaging for everyone. This is also your chance to volunteer to take on bigger roles in the SETIG for specific initiatives – including running as a candidate for one of two open SETIG Leadership Team positions. So be on the lookout for the survey link in a couple of months!

The SETIG Lineages Project

The SETIG is proposing a new Lineages Project. The project aims to recognize and help expand peoples’ understandings of the origins and differences of systems lineages and their connections to evaluation lineages. Our hope is to create a visual map of the parallel developments and relationship between systems and evaluation lineages. Thanks to Beverly Parsons and Marah Moore who came up with the idea, first pitched it at the AEA 2018 SETIG meeting, and are weighing in on the process.

Sounds ambitious – how will we do this?

We’ll be keeping in mind the distinction between maps (or models) and reality. As Korzbyskis (1933) famously wrote, “a map is not the territory it represents, but, if correct, it has a similar structure to the territory, which accounts for its usefulness” (p. 58). Our hope is to facilitate an iterative, participatory process that taps into the deep and varied knowledge of systems-evaluation thought leaders and SETIG members to create a map (or several) that can be useful to SETIG members and the systems-evaluation community.

We anticipate the process going something like this:

      1. Gather and draw on what others have done, such as maps of the systems and complexity science fields by Ray Ison, Martin Reynolds, Brian Castellani, among others; and the evaluation theory tree by Marvin Alkin & Christina Christie.
      2. Roughly outline what the map might look like – what interrelationships and perspectives it could or should depict and where to draw boundaries around what’s included and excluded.
      3. Gather feedback and input from systems-evaluation thought leaders.
      4. Gather YOUR feedback & that of other SETIG members.
      5. Take all the feedback to build and revise one (or several) map(s).
      6. Craft a narrative with references to accompany the map(s).
      7. Share the map(s) and narrative with the systems-evaluation communities.


Thoughts on this project or want to get involved? Contact Emily Gates at

Members’ Corner

We are adding a new feature to the SETIG newsletter—a “Members’ Corner” where we will share news, accomplishments, and musings of TIG members. For this newsletter we are letting you know about a new book release by Bob Williams. If you have something you would like to see featured in future newsletters, please feel free to contact any member of the TIG leadership team. You will find our emails on the TIG Leadership page of the SETIG website ( or you may use the Contact Us form that is also on the website.


Systemic Evaluation Design: A Workbook

From the introduction:

So why a workbook on Systemic Evaluation Design?

Evaluation is about making judgments of worth.

Design is a continuous process that narrows down from an infinite number of judgments of worth to those that really matter. It decides “matters to whom” and in what circumstances. It decides what methods we must use to discover who benefits and who doesn’t. Above all, it provides the conditions for effective and adaptive management.

Systemic thinking has a long history in design and management of interventions and helps us negotiate complex design processes.


Evaluators need good design skills. This ebook is a workbook that takes you through the design process from “soup to nuts”. It is a workbook to use, not a text book to read. It is available to download for $10 with a free 8-page overview here:

Download and purchase Systemic Evaluation Design

SETIG-Sponsored Conference Sessions

We’re sponsoring an exciting array of sessions during Evaluation 2019 – please put these on your calendar and come out to support your fellow systems evaluators.

Wednesday, November 13

4:30pm-5:15 pm:

2735:Redefining the meaning of place, power and sustainability in community change initiatives

Poster Reception and Meet-the-Authors, 6:30pm-8:00 pm:

1593:How to Evaluate Impact on Systemic Changes? The Results and Lessons Learned From the Evaluations of the Finnish Future Organisation Sitra.

Thursday, November 14


2270:Blue Marble Evaluation: transforming evaluation to inform global transformation in the Anthropocene

12:30-1:30pm (Birds of a Feather: Table 42)

2924:Evaluating for Systems Change in Social Services


1056:Embedding Evaluation’s representations of programs in scientific understandings of “models”.


2811:Utilizing Complexity in Evaluation: Persistent Challenges and Opportunities


Friday, November 15


1986:Making sense of the map: Strategies for Ripple Effects Mapping analysis for systems change evaluations

SE2:Systems informed evaluations. Insights from case studies in philantropy, health, agriculture, and evaluation systems


1499:Let’s Agree in Principle: Principles-Focused Evaluation for Multi-Stakeholder Initiatives


2277:Our Journey to Develop a Comprehensive Data System to support Out-of-School Time (OST) Providers


2313:System Pathways Toolkit: Tools for Mapping and Measuring Systemic Change in “Big” Settings


2208:Evaluation lessons for systems change initiatives with equity goals

1116:The Future of Evaluation


SE1:Systems and complexity informed methods and tools in action

2542:The Future of Evaluating for Transformational (Systems) Change: Where are we? Where should we go?


2404:Charting New Paths: Building Systems-Aware M&E Practices at Omidyar Network, Humanity United, and Democracy Fund


Saturday, November 16


1746:Evaluating Local Ownership: Applying a Systems Lens to the Journey to Self-Reliance


2877:Integrating Systems Concepts into Evaluability Assessment Design for Complex Change Initiatives


1405:Establishing and Implementing a Conceptual Framework for Evaluating Progress toward the Tipping Point of Inclusive Health


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