Online presentation and discussion 17 June 2021 more details at ANZSYS Events

Bob Williams

In this presentation, Bob Williams will describe a team has adapted systems concepts  to the evaluation field. The process included identifying tacit systems concepts and re-framing them to be more accessible to evaluators.

One of the challenges of trans-disciplines such as ’Systems’ is how to translate the concepts, often so deeply embedded as to be tacit, to other fields.  Those other fields have their own core concepts, again often deeply embedded.  Merely throwing systems ideas, methods and practices at people who haven’t a clue how to weave them into their own ideas, methods and practices results - in my experience - in misunderstandings and misapplications that does little to enhance the reputation of systemic practice.

For the past 15 years, I’ve been part of a group of people advocating the use of systems ideas within the evaluation field.  Helping the field be more systemic in its tasks.  To do that we had to re-conceptualise and repackage systems ideas into those more familiar to evaluators.  Market the ideas rather than try to sell them.  This presentation shows what we did, how we did it, where it was and was not successful and for what reason.  I hope the discussion can spur some general thoughts about assisting other fields to be more systemic in their approaches. 


Bob Williams is a well-known figure in the evaluation field and parts of the systems field.  His efforts at combining ideas from those two fields have resulted in four (about to be five) books and a prestigious award from the American Evaluation Association.  

Trained originally as an ecologist, he ended up as an evaluator via role as a manager, funder, and researcher in a variety of NGOs.  And in between there was a four year stint with the Open University’s Systems Group.