ParEvo is a method of developing alternative past histories or future scenarios, using a participatory evolutionary process (hence ParEvo). This involves the re-iteration of variation, selection and reproduction i.e. the evolutionary algorithm (Campbell, 1960). The process is designed to be used by multiple people, to produce a collective good – a set of storylines. In addition, the process generates data on how value has been created individually and collectively.
When used to look forward ParEvo can be seen as a form of participatory scenario planning or futures search. When used to look back it can be seen as a form of participatory public history.
The ParEvo app was developed with two purposes in mind. The first is more general purpose: to provide a research platform to experiment with different ways of running collaborative explorations of alternative futures. By research platform, I mean a location where multiple ParEvo exercises will be carried out, and all the data from those exercises will be retained and available for comparison and analysis (subject to the consent of the Facilitators of those exercises).
ParEvo is unique amongst scenario planning approaches in the very structured nature of people’s participation, and the ability to analyse participation data and its relationship to the types of scenarios that are developed. One useful source of theory and research findings to inform this kind of analysis is the field of collective intelligence (whereby groups can be more productive and creative than their best individual members). For more information on ways of analysing the content and participation dimensions of a ParEvo exercise go to the Content Analysis and Participation Analysis pages of this site.
The second purpose is more niche-specific, and related to my own area of work as an evaluation consultant. This is to explore how ParEvo can be used to enable social and economic development interventions to be designed and implemented in a more flexible and responsive manner. For more detail on how this can be done jump to ‘10. Using the results of the ParEvo process ‘on the Ten Stages Of A ParEvo Exercise page
Each ParEvo exercise involves 10 steps, explained in detail here
There is now an 12 minute YouTube video explaining how ParEvo works here This was produced in early 2020
This website documents the design of the ParEvo process, and how that design has developed over time. The core concept was developed by Rick Davies in the 1990s, during the development of his PhD thesis on organisational learning (available here). Its first implementation took place before the widespread availability of the internet and is described on this 2007 MandE NEWS webpage.
In late 2018 two pretests of a web-based version were carried out with the help of 23 volunteer participants spread across 12 countries. These pre-tests used a very labour intensive combination of online surveys, Excel spreadsheets, network visualisation software, web page editors and FTP software.
Aptivate has now helped Rick Davies develop a web app to make this process available free and online to multiple parties. The new web-based version solicits, presents and analyses the contents generated by participants on a more automated, timely and error-free basis. It allows multiple groups to do so, via free accounts on this dedicated ParEvo web site. To try out this app, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or fill in this form.
Rick Davies owns the copyright to the ParEvo process described on this website. Others can use this process, at no cost, if a request is made to, and agreed by, Rick Davies beforehand. For more information on copyright see:
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