Purpose and Design


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.

ParEvo’s broad potential is as a means of mobilising collective intelligence (whereby groups can be more productive and creative than their best individual members). This could be expressed in many forms, not just narrative text. For example, as a music composition, branching into different variants at various points in time.

My particular interest at present is in how ParEvo can be used as an innovative aid to participatory planning, implementation and evaluation of social and economic development interventions. For more detail on this jump to “10. Using the results of the ParEvo process” on the Ten Stages of a ParEvo exercise page


Process design slide 2019 05 29 Vs 2

Each ParEvo exercise involves 10 steps, explained in detail here

A 12 slide PowerPoint presentation produced in early 2019 is available hereAnother presentation made at the UK Evaluation Society Evaluation 2019 conference is available here.


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 Ph.D. 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: rick.davies@gmail.com 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:

Limitation of Liability

In no event shall Rick Davies be liable to you or any party related to you for any indirect, incidental, consequential, special, exemplary, or punitive damages or lost profits, even if Rick Davies has been advised of the possibility of such damages. In any event, Rick Davies’s total aggregate liability to you for all damages of every kind and type (regardless of whether based in contract or tort) shall not exceed the purchase price of the product.

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