Handling Complexity in Policy Evaluation Online Workshop: Module Two – Selecting an Appropriate Evaluation Approach

Wednesday 19th October 2022, 10:00 – 16:00, Live Online Training (via Zoom)

Tutors: Helen Wilkinson and Richard Allen

Back by popular demand, our ‘Handling Complexity in Policy Evaluation’ workshop series provides you with knowledge and practical advice to allow you to deal with complexity in policy analysis and evaluation.

Complexity is present in many social and natural systems and is an important factor accounting for the success or failure of policies. Making complexity explicit can result in better policy development and delivery. Ignoring complexity risks policies that are ineffective, fail or behave in unexpected ways.

Comprising three modules, the training is based on the Supplementary Guide to the Government’s new edition of the Magenta Book on evaluation: ‘Handling Complexity in Policy Evaluation’, which was developed by CECAN.

We recommend attending all three modules, which have been designed to complement one another, but this is not essential and the workshops can be attended individually.

Course Details:

This second workshop reviews material presented in chapter four of the Supplementary Guide, which provides guidance on how to select an appropriate evaluation approach for a complex intervention, reviews some of the different evaluation approaches available and indicates when these are most useful.

Learning Outcomes:

By the end of this workshop, participants will:

  • Understand the importance of using a complexity-appropriate approach to evaluation
  • Be aware of the breadth and diversity of approaches that can be used in complex settings
  • Be equipped with a set of tools that help identify an appropriate approach or approaches based on the evaluation purpose, the complexity attributes present, and the feasibility of approach for intended use.

Intended Audience:

These workshops are designed to support policy makers, analysts and evaluators at all levels facing complexity challenges in their current work.

Tutor Biographies:

This workshop is led by Helen Wilkinson and Richard Allen.

Helen Wilkinson is a director of Risk Solutions’. She has over 25 years’ consulting experience delivering assignments supporting policy formulation, development of management systems, and all aspects of evaluation and review. She has worked at senior levels for the UK government, reporting for example directly to ministers in Defra. She leads one of two teams delivering quality assurance of the National Audit Office’s (NAO) value for money (VFM) evaluation reports. Helen, with Martha, is a co-author of the HM Treasury 2020 Magenta Book Supplementary Guide “Handling Complexity in Policy Evaluation” and Defra’s complexity evaluation framework.

Richard Allen is Principal Researcher and Consultant at the Tavistock Institute of Human Relations (TIHR). He has worked for more than thirty years in the not for profit/NGO and public sectors in a range of roles that include senior management, consultancy, evaluation, project management, quality management and grants management. He has expertise in the evaluation, and programme management, of multi-site complex programmes in the ‘not for profit’/NGO sector. This includes: the real time theory-based realist evaluation of UK government’s (BEIS) heat network investment project, in partnership with Risk Solutions; ; evaluation of the joint DoH, DWP, PHE Children of Alcohol Dependent Parents Innovation Fund being delivered across nine sites in England; the evaluation of community-based health care navigation services; community consultation on financial well-being for older people for the Money Advice Services and co-constructing Theories of Change with the Food Standards Agency (Cecan case study) for a major change programme. He has provided Theory of Change Training for the middle management in the British Council.

Richard has researched (MPhil) the use of Theory of Change for the design, planning and implementation of programmes in complex settings. He also has degrees in Law, Criminology, Organisational Psychology and Research Methods. Richard is a graduate of the TIHR’s coaching programme.

Course Fees:

Tickets for this workshop are £250 + VAT per person. However, we are offering a 10% early bird discount for those that book their place by 31 Aug 2022.

How to Book:

Reserve your place by registering and paying via our Eventbrite page. Payment can be made by credit/debit card, Paypal or by requesting an invoice.

If you have any questions, please contact CECAN by emailing admin@cecan.co.uk


CECAN Ltd is the commercial arm of the ESRC funded Centre for Evaluating Complexity across the Nexus (CECAN). It offers access to innovative policy evaluation approaches and methods to support decision makers.