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CECAN Webinar: Setting Boundaries in Evaluation; The role of Critical Systems Heuristics

Online, 18 Oct 2023, 10am
Bob Williams

Wednesday 18th October 2023, 10:00 – 11:00 BST

Presenter: Bob Williams, Evaluator

Webinar Overview:

Evaluation is all about selecting boundaries. Establishing the purposes of the evaluation, determining the criteria used to evaluate it and working out who should benefit from the evaluation, are all about deciding what is ‘in’ and what is ‘out’. Furthermore, we are inevitably evaluating the boundary decisions taken (or imposed on) the evaluand. C West Churchman, Professor of Management at Berkeley University, argued that these choices are not only technical but deeply ethical; there will be winners and losers from these decisions. And thus argued that key boundary decisions should be subjected to critical appraisal. But what are they? In the complexity of this range of boundary choices, each impacting on other boundary choices, it is difficult to identify what the critical boundary choices are – and what they ought to be. Social researcher and evaluator, Werner Ulrich, developed Critical Systems Heuristics based on Churchman’s ideas. The heuristics comprise 12 questions grouped around four core decision areas that every endeavour undertakes. These questions challenge evaluators to think deeply about the purposes of their evaluations and the criteria they develop to achieve those purposes.

This interactive presentation will use a case example to explore the use of Critical Systems Heuristics in evaluation design, implementation and reporting.

Presenter Biography:

Bob Williams is an evaluator who for many years has promoted the use by evaluators of ideas from the systems field. He was awarded the American Evaluation Association’s Lazersfeld Prize for this work. He is the author of several books including Systems Concepts in Action, Beyond Logrames; Using Systemic Concepts in Evaluation, Systemic Evaluation Design, Wicked Solutions and System Diagrams: A Practical Guide; plus numerous workshops and articles on the topic.

How to Join:

This talk will take place via a Zoom Webinar (registration now closed).

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

Link to Webinar Recording:

If you were unable to join the webinar, you can watch the session via our YouTube channel below. We are also pleased to be able to share a PDF version of the PowerPoint slides, please click here to view.

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