The Principles For Digital Development: All Eyes on The Principles


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In our previous posts we discussed the growth of The Principles for Digital Development community and its movement from endorsing theory to applying it in practice. Many organizations also voiced their interest in self-assessment and evaluation. 

As we already mentioned, the Digital Principles team answered the emerging needs of the community and created three new Evaluation Tools

  • Digital Principles Organizational Self-Assessment; 
  • Digital Principles Indicator Library;
  • Digital Principles-Focused Evaluation.

If you are not familiar with them yet, here are our quick overviews: Digital Principles Organizational Self-Assessment, Digital Principles Indicator Library, the best practices of gold-level endorsers. In this article we will introduce you to the third and last Evaluation Tool, Digital Principles-Focused Evaluation (DP-FE).

All Eyes On the Principles

What makes this particular tool stand out from the previous ones, is the object of focus. The centre of the evaluation is the Principles themselves. Creators of the tool state: “principles can and should be evaluated because until they are, they are merely hypotheses.” In other words, without evaluating the Digital Principles in a context of a specific organization, we won’t be able to properly apply them and access their full potential.

The main point of DP-FE is answering the following questions:

  1. Meaningfulness: To what extent and in what ways are the Principles for Digital Development meaningful to our organization or initiative? 
  1. Adherence: If meaningful, to what extent and in what ways are the Principles for Digital Development adhered to in practice at our organization or initiative?
  1. Results: If adhered to, to what extent and in what ways are the Principles for Digital Development leading to desired results?

This is how the Digital Principles team define each of the three Evaluation Tools and the difference between them:

“Where the Organizational Self-Assessment is associated with principle meaningfulness and adherence generally, and the Indicator Library is associated with principle adherence specifically, DP-FE provides a more holistic view of the merit of the Digital Principles and principle-driven initiatives by investigating all three criteria.”

The Structure of Digital Principles-Focused Evaluation

This model of evaluation is adapted from Principles-Focused Evaluation (P-FE) developed by Michael Quinn Patton and it borrows many ideas and quotations from this work. 

It is shared in a form of 30-pages PDF primer that can be accessed here.

Main topics discussed in the primer:

  • Principles-Focused Evaluation – an evaluation model that provides feedback on how well the navigation with principles is working out.
  • Digital Principles-Focused Evaluation – application of the Principles-Focused Evaluation in the context of The Principles for Digital Development.
  • Methodology – two key operational frameworks for applying DP-FE: 10-phase process for facilitating a DP-FE and 6-step process for evaluative reasoning applied to the DP-FE process.
  • Appendixes – a collection of 10 appendixes, containing various additional resources, rubrics and answers to frequently asked questions.

Don’t hesitate – evaluate!

Digital Principles-Focused Evaluation is a comprehensive tool. Its length and complexity can be intimidating, especially for the organizations that are just starting to use the Digital Principles in practice. However, do not be discouraged by that. Authors of the primer stress that any organization can conduct DP-FE. It doesn’t matter at what stage of applying the Digital Principles the endorser currently is.

Conducting DP-FE can help in gaining a better understanding of the benefits the Digital Principles bring to the ones who endorse them. But to make the best out of them, it is important to first determine their role and their capacities in the context of a specific organization. DP-FE is a great tool that leads through this process of examination.

We hope that you’ve found this series of articles helpful. For more resources and information we encourage you to visit The Principles for Digital Development website. The Digital Principles team is currently looking for partners to pilot Digital Principles-Focused Evaluation. If you’re interested, contact them at [email protected].


Digital Principles-Focused Evaluation
Digital Principles Monitoring, Evaluation, & Learning Part 3: Digital Principles-Focused Evaluation

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