Helping Defra tackle complexity

During 2019 and 2021, Risk Solutions as part of a CECAN Ltd team helped develop the Complexity Evaluation Framework and the Theory of Change Toolkit to help Defra policy-makers, analysts and commissioners navigate the complexity inherent in their work.

The Complexity Evaluation Framework aims to ensure that complexity thinking is consistently embedded into evaluation, equipping its users with a checklist of core considerations to ensure that evaluations are robust and sufficiently consider the implications of complexity.

On the 5th June 2019, we presented a first look at the new Complexity Evaluation Framework (the CEF) to an audience of policy-makers, analysts and commissioners in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

The workshop included a discussion with Roisin O’Brien (Principal Social Researcher – Resources and Waste Evidence) and Tom Pye (Senior Policy Advisor – Resources, Waste and Plastics Strategy), hosted by CECAN Deputy Director Ben Shaw.

The CEF  can be accessed and downloaded on the Defra website (link above) along with a handy A3 summary available from the Better Evaluation website

Following completion of the CEF we were asked to join the Technopolis team developing a bespoke Theory of Change toolkit for Defra.  We provided advice on how to capture complexity considerations into a TOC.  The TOC Toolkit is designed to help Defra teams generate robust and dynamic Theories of Change for the evaluation of programmes and strategies across Defra’s complex policy remit.

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