Revaluation is a new methodology for measuring the full value of social action in complex systems. It has been created by Andrew Darnton and Andrew Harrison in response to the challenge of evaluating social movements. In the process it overturns many of the assumptions which underpin orthodox evaluation. Most notably, Revaluation represents an active input into a dynamic system – measuring in real time, rather than evaluating post hoc. After all, the aim of evaluation should be to make interventions more effective, and make more change.
At the core of the Revaluation approach is its understanding of value. The method measures in three dimensions to reveal the ‘full value’ of a social movement or action, using the ‘3Cs’: Calculate Calibrate Capacitate:
Involves manipulating numbers (summing, or converting using proxy data and ‘multipliers’) to arrive at a single figure, usually in £. The dominant metric in orthodox evaluation.
Involves judgements about the relative merits (or cost/benefits) of different actions and outcomes. Based on how activists decide where to direct their efforts (and how much effort to make), both as individual decision making and socialised in groups.
Involves measuring the capacity of a movement or network, plus the potential of that network to increase its capacity in future, and thus the value it can generate (ie. its emergent qualities). Applies both to networks of people and ideas.
Revaluation also highlights how, in complex systems, seeing the whole is a challenge in itself. This is one reason why we work with actors in the system as co-researchers: value is visible locally, but cannot be seen totally from the ‘centre’. Accordingly within each of the three dimensions, we distinguish between visible and invisible value: ‘visible’ being known value (evidence of which is lying around, on the surface) and ‘invisible’ being knowable value (which could be evidenced, given time and resources to iterate, cascade, and aggregate).
The resulting framework for summarising the full value of a movement or action can be expressed as the 6 Box ‘dashboard’ for Revaluation:
Academic colleagues have called Revaluation “a paradigm shift in evaluation”; others have simply said it’s “not evaluation”. Through its different ways of measuring and valuing, it supports paradigm shifts in the systems under enquiry. It resulted from a year’s work ‘reimagining evaluation’ in the context of NHS Change Day: a new, bottom-up approach to quality improvement in healthcare. We are now applying it to new ways of valuing ‘landscape-scale’ approaches to tackling biodiversity loss, in the context of the Welsh Government’s Nature Fund. And we are currently exploring the potential of Revaluation for repositioning the public arts as a vehicle for collective sense making and social transformation.
A loose collective of practitioners is coming together, and we’d be very interested in growing this network, and testing the method in new areas where social change is urgently needed. We welcome all contributions to this new agenda.
For further reading, an introductory blog can be found on the Big Lottery Fund’s ‘Future of Doing Good’ pages. Several of the reports from NHS Change Day can be found on the NHS Improvement site The Edge. Theoretical and methodological underpinnings are forthcoming through AD’s association with the Centre for the Evaluation of Complexity Across the Nexus (CECAN).
For further information, please contact:
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