Ann Zukoski on Tools for Participatory Evaluation- Using Ripple Effect Mapping and Art of Hosting Techniques to Engage Stakeholders

My name is Ann Zukoski and I am a Senior Research Associate at Rainbow Research, Inc. in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Founded as a nonprofit organization in 1974, Rainbow Research’s mission is to improve the effectiveness of socially-concerned organizations through capacity building, research, and evaluation. Rainbow Research is known for its focus on using participatory evaluation approaches.

Through my work, I am always looking for new tools and approaches to engage stakeholders throughout the evaluation process. Today, I am sharing two methods that I have found helpful.

Rad Resource:

Ripple Effect Mapping [REM] is an effective method for having a large group of stakeholders identify the intended and unintended impacts of projects. In REM stakeholders use elements of Appreciative Inquiry, mind mapping, and qualitative data analysis to reflect upon and visually map the intended and unintended changes produced by a complex program or collaboration. It is a powerful technique to document impacts, and engage stakeholders. Rainbow Research is currently collaborating with Scott Chazdon at the University of Minnesota to use this method to evaluate a community health program impact by conducting REM at two points in time —at the beginning and end of a three-year project. Want to learn more? See

Hot Tip:

The Art of Hosting (AoH) is a set of facilitation tools, evaluators can use to engage stakeholders and create discussions that count. AoH is a set of methods for working with groups to harness the collective wisdom and self-organizing capacity of groups of any size.  The Art of Hosting uses a set of conversational processes to invite people to step in and become fully engaged in the task at hand. This working practice can help groups make decisions, build their capacity and find new ways to respond to opportunities challenges and change. For more information see –

Have you used these tools? Let us all know your thoughts!

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2 thoughts on “Ann Zukoski on Tools for Participatory Evaluation- Using Ripple Effect Mapping and Art of Hosting Techniques to Engage Stakeholders”

  1. Hi Ann
    My name is Natasha and I am a teacher taking a Graduate Program course on Program Evaluation in Eduction. Both the strategies mentioned in this article are very well articulated and develop collaboration, participation and empowerment with all stakeholders involved in program evaluation. I just had a couple of comments and questions regarding the strategies mentioned in this article.
    Ripple Effect Mapping- I think that mind mapping is an excellent visual to use to help build capacity of for evaluation and research and ultimately decision making using information gathered thorough data, but in my personal context , working at an International School in Vietnam, cultural variables often limit of level of participation by stakeholders. In Vietnam people do not offer or share their opinions because there is always fear related to negative consequences from key decision makers. How would you overcome such fears amongst stakeholders in order to gain the most out of collaboration and engaging stakeholders in authentic discussions about program evaluations?
    The same applies to The Art of Hosting (AoH). Many staff members at my school are shy introverts who would rather be lead and told what to do, than to “become fully engaged in the task at hand”. Not all people respond to challenges in the same way and may not have the same level of understanding of the goal of the evaluation. In the article you mention “to invite people to step in and become fully engaged”, I am unclear as to how to achieve this when not all the people involved in the evaluation share the same passion and interest in participating in the process. How do I as the evaluator, who is also a teacher in the school, inspire my colleagues to be brave enough to put themselves out there regardless of their fears and possible limited understanding of the goal of the evaluation? How do I ensure that all the stakeholders are actively engaging in “discussions that count”?

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