Monday, October 26, 2009

Visualization Methods - Really really interesting

Previously I wrote about Edward Tufte's Book on presenting graphs. Well, it seems that data visualization has been taken to a whole new level.

Ralph Lengler & Martin J. Eppler form the Institute of Corporate Communication compiled a "Periodic table" of visualization methods that categorizes and shows examples of about 100 visualization methods.

The table can be downloaded in pdf format at:

But try the online version - As you mouse over the various "elements" an example pops up to demonstrate what it looks like.

The full article explaining the table can be found at

Wow - It takes people specializing in visualization methods to think of such an innovative way to present their concept.

PS. I heard about this on the American Evaluation Assocation's Linked in Group.This and other useful information gets shared from time to time.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Get involved - SAMEA is preparing a submission

Media statement by the Minister in the Presidency T Manuel for National Planning on the release of the Green Paper on National Strategic Planning
4 September 2009

Today government is releasing two discussion documents, one a Green Paper on National Strategic Planning and the other a Policy Document on Performance Monitoring and Evaluation. The decision by President Zuma to appoint Ministers in the Presidency responsible for National Planning and Performance Monitoring and Evaluation is designed to improve the overall effectiveness of government, enabling government to better meets its development objectives in both the short- and longer-term. These two discussion documents must be seen in the context of wider efforts led by the President to improve the performance of government through enhancing coherence and co-ordination in government, managing the performance of the state and communicating better with the public.
The Green Paper on National Strategic Planning is a discussion document that outlines the tasks of the national planning function, broadly defined. It deals with the concept of national strategic planning, as well as processes and structures. Once consultations on these issues have been completed, the process to set up the high-level structures will commence; and this will be followed by intense work to develop South Africa's long-term vision and other outputs. In other words, the Green Paper does not deal with these substantive issues of content.
The rationale for planning is that government (and indeed the nation at large) requires a longer-term perspective to enhance policy coherence and to help guide shorter term policy trade-offs. The development of a long-term plan for the country will help government departments and entities across all the spheres of government to develop programmes and operational plans to meet society’s broader developmental objectives. Such a plan must articulate the type of society we seek to create and outline the path towards a more inclusive society where the fruits of development benefit all South Africans, particularly the poor.
The planning function is to be coordinated by the Minister in The Presidency for National Planning. There are four key outputs of the planning function. Firstly, to develop a long term vision for South Africa, Vision 2025, which would be an articulation of our national aspirations regarding the society we seek and which would help us confront the key challenges and trade-offs required to achieve those goals. A National Planning Commission comprising of external commissioners who are experts in relevant fields would play a key role in developing this plan. The development of a National Plan would require broader societal consultation and existing forums would be used for this purpose. The Minister in The Presidency will co-ordinate these engagements. A National Plan has to be adopted by Cabinet for it to have the force of a government plan. The Minister would serve as a link between the Commission and Government, feeding the work of the Commission into government.
The next set of outputs cover the five-yearly Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF) and the National Programme of Action. These are documents of national government, adopted by Cabinet, drawing on the electoral mandate of the government of the day. The Minister in The Presidency for National Planning, supported by a Ministerial Committee on Planning, would coordinate the development of these documents with input from Ministers, departments, provinces, organised local government, public entities and coordinating clusters.
Further, it is envisaged that the planning function in The Presidency will undertake research and release discussion papers on a range of topics that impact on long-term development. These include topics such as demographic trends, global climate change, human resource development, and future energy mix and food security. The Presidency would also release and process baseline data on critical such as demographics, biodiversity as well as migratory and economic trends. This work will be undertaken by the Minister, working with the National Planning Commission (NPC) and the Minister, working with the NPC would, from time to time, advise government on progress in implementing the national plan, including the identification of institutional and other blockages to its implementation.
One of the functions of The Presidency in respect of national planning is to develop frameworks for spatial planning that seek to undo the damage that apartheid's spatial development patterns have wrought on our society. This includes the development of high level frameworks to guide regional planning and infrastructure investment.
The national planning function will provide guidance on the allocation of resources and in the development of departmental, sectoral, provincial and municipal plans.
The Minister in The Presidency responsible for national planning will be supported by a Planning Secretariat, which will also provide administrative, research and other support to the National Planning Commission. National Strategic Planning is an iterative process involving extensive consultation and engagement within government and with broader society.
It is envisaged that Parliament will play a key role in guiding the planning function through its oversight role but also through facilitating broader stakeholder input into the planning process. For this reason, it is appropriate that Parliament should lead the discussion process on the Green Paper.
This Green Paper is a discussion document. Government welcomes comment, advice, criticisms and suggestions from all in society.
Please address all comments on the Green Paper on National Strategic Planning to the Minister in the Presidency for National Planning c/o:
Hassen Mohamed
Tel: 012 300 5455
Fax: 086 683 5455
Issued by: The Presidency
4 September 2009

Please see for the actual green paper and Policy document on performance monitoring and evaluation.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Check out the GOODs

A colleague referred me to a refreshing website that might be interesting to do-gooders the world over. It is called GOOD.

Maybe they called it GOOD because it can be found at the following url: Apparently "GOOD is a collaboration of individuals, businesses, and nonprofits pushing the world forward"

Maybe they called it GOOD because it is good. I remind you, dear reader, that I am an evaluator so I should - according to the Scrivenian* wisdom I sometimes subscribe to - be particularly well placed to pass judgements about merit and worth. However, I will reserve judgement about the Goodness of GOOD for now. Except for saying what I have already said about it.

There is an interesting blog about Innovation and Evaluation in philanthropy. See

*OK, that only sounded GOOD in my head, but the meaning I'm hoping to convey is that Michael Scriven's writings are relevant here.