AEA365 | A Tip-a-Day by and for Evaluators

Apr/11

18

EPE TIG Week: Nick Salafsky on Miradi Adaptive Management Software for Conservation Projects

My name is Nick Salafsky and I am Co-Director and Co-Founder of Foundations of Success, a nonprofit organization committed to working with practitioners to learn how to do conservation better through the process of adaptive management.

My colleagues and I have spent the past two decades helping biodiversity conservation project teams design theories of change and evaluate how their actions lead to outcomes. This work first resulted in the Open Standards for the Practice of Conservation, which provide best practices and a common language for designing, managing, monitoring, and learning from conservation projects.

Building on the Open Standards and using commercial tax preparation software as an inspiration, we created Miradi Software, an Open Source software program that guides practitioners through the Open Standards and provides an integrated set of tools for data collection in a standard and sharable format.

The Step-by-Step Interview Wizard Showing the Threat Rating View

One aspect of Miradi is to create conceptual models which are simple box-and-arrow diagrams of conservation targets, threats that affect these targets, and contributing factors to threats. Recognizing that truly strategic plans show both what you will focus on and what you will not focus on, Miradi then provides additional tools to rate the relative importance of threats.

Diagram View Showing a Conceptual Model

A second set of tools that Miradi supports are results chains that show the theory of change and enable users to articulate goals, objectives, and indicators that can be used to track effectiveness. A third set of tools helps with work planning and project implementation. If you try to use Microsoft Project, you will quickly realize that it was built for engineers who need to find the critical path to deploy 50 construction workers across the sequential tasks needed to build a bridge. Unfortunately, conservation (and other civil society) project managers tend to have the inverse problem—they need to deploy 5 staff across 50 concurrent tasks. To this end, Miradi’s Workplan provides an enhanced version of a Gantt Chart, enabling mangers to deploy their team across these many tasks at whatever level of detail is most appropriate.

Workplan View Showing the Enhanced Gantt Chart

In addition to coaching an individual project team though the Open Standards, Miradi also captures information in a standard format so that it can easily be exported to various reports and databases, thus providing the foundation for true cross-project learning and improvement.

Rad Resources:

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Earthweek with our colleagues in the Environmental Program Evaluation AEA Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our EPE TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

In addition to coaching an individual project team though the Open Standards, Miradi also captures information in a standard format so that it can easily be exported to various reports and databases, thus providing the foundation for true cross-project learning and improvement.

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