Tamarack Thought-Leader Series

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Principles-Focused Design & Evaluation for Community Changemakers

How can social innovators ensure that they are (a) adhering to core principles that reflect their deeply held values and beliefs, (b) effectively navigating diverse and dynamic contexts and (c) generating desired results?

Principles-focused evaluation is one of the latest developments in the field of evaluation that seeks to assist social innovators and evaluators tackle some of the most complex issues of our time.

"Principles-Focused Evaluation provides a practical toolkit for guiding and shaping the urgent work of shifting institutions, systems, and cultures from maladaptive to adaptive states. […] This is a timely and important book for evaluators -- and for the social innovators, policymakers, educators, and funders with whom they work."

Stephen Huddart, President and CEO, The J. W. McConnell Family Foundation,

Join evaluation pioneer Michael Quinn Patton and experienced evaluator Mark Cabaj in an intensive workshop that explores the principles-focused evaluation approach and demonstrates its relevance and application in a range of settings. This highly anticipated event is being brought back by popular demand after selling out in 2018, and will be coming to three cities across Ontario and Quebec this fall. 

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What Will I Learn?

This day-long workshop will be filled with both content and practical tools and take-aways that participants will be able to use in their collaborative efforts or in their workplaces. 

  • Why principles matter for program development and evaluation and how they can serve as a rudder to navigate the uncertainties, turbulence, and emergent challenges of complex dynamic environments.

  • The unique GUIDE framework used to determine whether principles provide meaningful guidance (G) and are useful (U), inspiring (I), developmentally adaptable (D), and evaluable (E), illustrated by a variety of examples from across the world.

  • The principles to guide social innovators and evaluators in integrating principles-focused evaluation

  • User-friendly principles-focused evaluation practices, include rubrics, a P-FE checklist, application experiences first-hand reflections and examples from experienced P-FE practitioners, sidebars and summary tables, and end-of-chapter application exercises.

This Workshop is for:

  • Social innovators who want to more fully integrate a principles-based approach to designing, implementing and assessing their organizations, strategies and programs to tackle tough issues.

  • Evaluators and researchers interested in crafting an evaluation design and methods that reflect the dynamic, adaptive principles-focused approach social innovators often employ in their work, and evaluation practices not fully captured in traditional evaluation texts and practices.  

  • Policy makers and funders who want to understand principles-focused evaluation well enough that they can embed them in their own work as well as better assist the social innovators and evaluators whom they support.


ABCD Audience






"[Principles-Focused Evaluation] provides the framework for implementing evaluations that are grounded in meaningful, actionable, and rigorous evidence. The book offers guidance on theory and practice plus examples that bring the concepts to life. No one else engages readers quite like Patton. Another exceptional contribution by a master!

Christina A. Christie, PhD, Chair, Department of Education, University of California, Los Angeles


Michael Quinn PattonMichael Quinn Patton Square.jpg

Michael Patton, with more than 45 years experience as an evaluator, is a generalist who uses all kinds of methods, especially mixed methods, and focuses on adapting the design to the situation, intended uses, and intended users to maximize use -- utilization-focused evaluation, the approach he pioneered in the 1970's. He has worked with organizations and programs at the international, national, state, and local levels, and with philanthropic, not-for-profit, private sector, and government programs.

He has worked with peoples from many different cultures and perspectives. As a generalist he has worked across the full range of efforts at improving human effectiveness and results, including programs in leadership development, education, human services, the environment, public health, employment, agricultural extension, food systems, human rights, early childhood, arts, criminal justice, anti-poverty programs, transportation, diversity, managing for results, performance indicators, effective governance, and futuring. His recent work has focused on developmental evaluation and principles-driven evaluation, both of which he pioneered, and are based on complexity theory and systems thinking. Michael is also co-author of Getting to Maybe: How the World Is Changed with Frances Westley and Brenda Zimmerman.

Mark_Cabaj1.jpgMark Cabaj

Mark is President of the consulting company From Here to There and an Associate of Tamarack Institute.

Mark’s current focus is on developing practical ways to understand, plan and evaluate efforts to address complex issues (e.g. neighborhood renewal, poverty and homelessness, community safety, educational achievement and health). He has first-hand knowledge of using evaluation as a policy maker, philanthropist, and activist, and has played a big role in promoting the emerging practice of developmental evaluation in Canada.




This workshop will be offered in three cities:

- London, ON - September 9, 2019

- Toronto, ON - September 10, 2019

- Montreal, QC - September 12, 2019


Registration will open at 8:30am, coffee & tea will be served. The workshop begins at 9:00am and runs until 4:00pm, with lunch and snacks provided.



The registration rate (in Canadian dollars) is $329 per person.

The registration rate includes a full day workshop, practical exercises and a membership into Tamarack Institute's Learning community. Also enjoy a great lunch and fellowship with amazing community and civic leaders.

If you are in need of assistance with your registration or have any questions, contact Jack Gibbings. 



Get a jump on your learning with these suggested resources:

- Michael Quinn Patton's book: Principles-Focused Evaluation: The GUIDE

- View a webinar with Mark Cabaj and Michael Quinn Patton on Principles-Focused Evaluation for Community Changemakers


Registration for these events is now closed

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For questions regarding this event, reach out to Stephanie.
For questions regarding invoicing and payments, reach out to Jana.