Here is the result of a project of the American Evaluation Association’s Systems in Evaluation Topical Interest Group, Principles for Effective Use of Systems Thinking in Evaluation. The group got together over several months after beginning the project at last November’s AEA conference in Washington DC.
A systems approach to evaluation seeks to apply general principles of systems to understanding the organizations and projects we evaluate. As we have conceived them for this purpose, facets of systems consist of interrelationships between system components, diverse perspectives of actors within systems, system boundaries, and dynamics. By implementing evaluation strategies based in these facets, evaluators using systems approaches can provide valuable understanding of the complex interactions among project components.