Social change often takes an unpredictable path due the complexity that exists among interacting systems, individual factors, and unexpected events that occur while implementing a particular initiative. Utilizing a Diarist throughout the implementation of a program or project can serve as a way to capture lessons and insights to adapt in real time or inform future work. Inspired by the Diarist Project funded by the Annie E Casey Foundation, Diarist work involves identifying an individual to document observations and activities throughout a project period or after with the intention of providing a product such as a timeline of activities, evaluation summary or organizational guidebook. Learn more about how Diarist Work might help your organization.
.Diarist for Program and Project Documentation
Diarist work can support general documentation of a program or project. Having someone serve as an outside observer of implementing an initiative can provide an overview of activities to support future replications or simply capture what happened throughout an implementation period whether it be expected or unexpected.
Diarist as Evaluator
Diarist work can also be structured in a formal way using a Developmental Evaluation approach to capture what happened throughout a particular initiative. This form of data collection can identify key process and practices that led to project or program outcomes.
Diarist to Support Reflection
In both program and evaluation documentation, diarist work provides an opportunity for reflection throughout a particular time period. By having an internal or external person tracking changes and lessons learned throughout a particular project, key stakeholders can take a pause throughout the dynamic process to gain clarity and perspective over challenges, changes needed or successes. This reflection can take place in a group setting or individual conversations.
Diarist for Documenting Organizational Knowledge
Another way that a Diarist can serve an organization is through documenting organizational knowledge that may not be captured anywhere. This could be outlining the theories that inform the work, processes used in certain circumstances or simply an inventory of approaches used within a group. This documentation could lead to a creation of a guidebook or set of best practices to share with future employees or particular audiences.