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Developmental Evaluation

Use real-time feedback to address complex problems


How do we make sure our new initiative is having the desired impact?

Developmental Evaluation helps leaders and changemakers from social purpose organizations increase the impact of their work by providing real-time data and feedback to adapt an intervention as it unfolds.

In contrast to formative or summative evaluation, Developmental Evaluation supports the creation, development or radical adaptation of a model in real-time.

What is Developmental Evaluation?

Developmental Evaluation serves a different purpose than traditional forms of evaluation.

It is particularly well-suited to initiatives that are being implemented in quickly changing contexts, and can be used by teams that are:

  • Creating a new program, strategy or policy from scratch
  • Adapting a model in constantly evolving contexts
  • Trying to encourage major systems change
  • Replicating a model that emerged and is proven to work in one context, and adapting it to a new context
  • Developing a rapid response in the face of a sudden major change or a crisis

A Developmental Evaluation project might use a range of different data-gathering techniques, such as interviews, surveys or focus groups. Teams typically work with an experienced internal or external developmental evaluator to customize the design of the evaluation to their particular situation.

In determining whether to use Developmental Evaluation, teams should consider if they have a clear idea of the impact they want to have, whether their intervention is suited to Developmental Evaluation, and whether their organization is ready to adopt Developmental Evaluation.


Please note that Innoweave is currently reviewing our strategy and evolving our offerings. Our original coaching streams are available during our 2024 funding round as we gradually refine our approach. Stay up to date by checking back regularly and subscribing to our newsletter.

The Innoweave self-assessment tool is designed to help you determine your organization's readiness and whether your initiative or program model is well suited for Developmental Evaluation.


This assessment has 5 questions.

Please respond to each of the questions to the best of your ability by choosing the option that most accurately reflects your organizational context.

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Are you doing one or more of the following:
  • Creating an entirely new model (e.g., program, strategy or policy) from scratch
  • Adapting a model (e.g., program, strategy or policy.) to respond to a context that is constantly and quickly evolving (e.g., social, economic, political, demographic or institutional)
  • Replicating a model that emerged in one context and adapting it to a new context
  • Exploring real-time solutions as a quick response to a sudden major change or a crisis (e.g., a natural disaster, financial melt-down or organizational failure)
  • Trying to create major systems change (e.g., restructuring workforce development systems or developing a regional service delivery model)
How certain are you about the challenge you are facing and the approach you need to use to address it?
Which statement best fits with your planning approach?
What level of authority does your organization have to make decisions about and deploy the necessary resources for the purpose, design, and implementation of the approach that you are using?
How much time, energy, and resources are you realistically able to devote to a real-time evaluation of your approach?

Info Session

We encourage teams interested in Innoweave’s Developmental Evaluation stream to review our lastest Information Session recording:

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Relevant Resources

Additional Resources


Innoweave offers coaching support to teams that are well positioned to implement a Developmental Evaluation approach. You can connect with an Innoweave coach to help you explore and implement your initiative. Then apply to Innoweave for funds to support that coaching engagement.

Deirdre Goudriaan
Margot Smart
Paul Bakker
Peter Rudiak-Gould
Jamie Gamble
Sarah Nielsen
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Apply for support

Teams of 2 to 5 participants are eligible to apply for Innoweave coaching support if they have submitted an Expression of Interest and it has been approved.

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These are our most frequently asked questions.

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What is Developmental Evaluation?

Developmental Evaluation is a mindset of inquiry that depends on the situation, context, the people involved, and the fundamental principle of doing what makes sense for program development. Developmental Evaluation is not a specific recipe or set of steps. Developmental Evaluation is a useful tool for organizations to assess whether an intervention is generating impact while it is still being rolled out, allowing them to adapt for great impact in real time.

How does a Developmental Evaluator work with a project/team?

Developmental Evaluation positions the evaluator as an internal team member, integrated into the action and ongoing interpretation and decision-making processes. This can mean working with a team over the course of months or years as an intervention is explored while it unfolds.

How do we know if Developmental Evaluation is a good fit?

You may want to ask the following questions:

  • Do we have a hunger and culture for learning?
  • Do we use data to challenge and inform our activities?
  • Does our environment encourage change and new ways of working?
  • Is our organization’s leadership a partner and learner on our team?
  • Does our leadership empower our team to be successful?