publication Jul 2022
A Tool for Systems Change that Supports Learning in Foundations
Foundations are systems. They have their own cultures and related assumptions, norms, standards, and practices. We encourage foundations to take stock of their learning needs with a dispassionate (evaluative) look at themselves as systems and how people work within them.
publication Apr 2021
Approaches to Learning Amid Crises: Reflections from Philanthropy
Explore how foundations’ approaches to learning shaped their responses to the crises of 2020. In interviews with seven foundations from Canada and the U.S. in the summer and fall of 2020, the authors applied the lens of organizational learning to how each of these foundations made sense of their reality, asked different kinds of questions to inform their thinking, and acted in new or different ways as a result.
insight Jun 2018
5-A-Day: Learning By Force of Habit
Establishing a learning organization or culture is such a big goal that it can overwhelm our ability to act on it. This piece, published on Medium, explores how building learning habits into common routines makes it more manageable, and creates small wins that can lead to big change. Focusing on habits ensures that learning is not a separate activity, but rather is integrated into our day-to-day work.
insight Jun 2018
Precipitating Events and Rewards in Making a Habit of Learning
Better habits around learning are critical to improving philanthropic practice. This piece looks at what needs to happen before and after habit change to make a new way of working stick.
insight May 2018
Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea: The Consequences of Small Failures in Learning
It was the worst U.S. maritime disaster in three decades, involving an experienced captain with a reputation for safety. This article, published on Medium, explains went wrong and what it can teach us about the often-overlooked factors that affect our learning and decisions.
publication Jan 2018
Evaluation Coaching: Light Up Your Client’s Expertise
The practice of coaching is gaining momentum in the evaluation profession, and more evaluators are including it in their skill set. This brief introduces the use of coaching in evaluation capacity building, and provides principles and three tools for integrating coaching into evaluation practice.
presentation Sep 2017
Better, Faster, Results – Supporting Learning for Multiple Audiences
How can foundations build an approach that is connected to robust data and information and supports the many learning needs of multiple actors? This presentation for the 2017 Evaluation Roundtable convening is on strategies for supporting learning in philanthropy. It presents questions, challenges, and implications for foundation practice.
publication Sep 2017
On the Other Side of Complexity: The McKnight Foundation’s Collaborative Crop Research Program
Under the direction of a new president, The McKnight Foundation embarked on a process to imbue learning at every level of one of its signature international programs: the Collaborative Crop Research Program (CCRP). This teaching case explores the creation, implementation, and ongoing refinement of an evaluation and learning approach for CCRP from 2008 to 2017.
insight Jul 2017
FaceTime, Open Workspace, and Electronic Calendars are a Few of My Least Favorite Things: Learning and the Way We Work
Supporting learning is about much more than facilitation and what happens at learning-focused events or meetings. We have to expand our thinking about what it takes to support effective learning in philanthropy. This article on Medium explores some unexpected sources, such as time management, physical and virtual space, and technology.
publication May 2017
Systems Change Evaluation Forum
Complex systems change efforts create practical challenges for evaluation. The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation convened their full staff and a group of external evaluators who work in philanthropy for a Systems Change Evaluation Forum. This report provides observations, tools, approaches, and advice for addressing systems evaluation challenges.