Our areas of expertise


When you view the world through a complexity lens you see different things than you might have otherwise seen.  ‘Zooming in and out’ to different levels within a system provides additional insight. 

We have developed specific expertise and innovative approaches distinct from more traditional methods. These include:

  • our approach to evaluation, called adaptive evaluation
  • a complexity informed approach to commissioning and contracting out
  • our way of assessing and supporting building trusted relationships
  • our use of complexity informed sensemaking tools throughout evaluation, research and facilitation projects  

Each of these approaches allows for greater flexibility, adaptation and responsiveness in a fast-changing world, whilst ensuring projects stay on track to deliver insights for action.

Adaptive Evaluation

Some traditional evaluation designs assume there will be high levels of predictability and control. The problem is that complex programs or contexts challenge these basic assumptions.

Often programs deal with emergent outcomes and objectives, adaptive program processes, nonlinear theories of change and evolving stakeholder expectations. In these instances, we need a
more adaptive approach to evaluation. One that fits the environment without compromising rigor.

Adaptive Evaluation brings together theory and practice of Human Systems Dynamics with an evaluation-specific methodology. It allows us to work quickly and effectively without getting lost in the constant change.

Commissioning and contracting out

Public services are often hard to specify, complex to deliver and challenging to measure in Aotearoa New Zealand. Public sector managers are experimenting with different ways of contracting out, yet the underlying New Public Management ethos, which is being applied in many administrative arms of government, can hamper initiatives.

Pragmatica supports the growing impetus to find alternative approaches to commission and contract out more effectively.

We use complexity theory-informed perspectives - framing highlights where changes to commissioning and contracting out organisation and practices may support more effective public service provision. We can also provide insights based on complexity theory as to why achieving change is hard.

Building Trusted Relationships

Funders and providers in government and community sector organisations need to find ways to genuinely and authentically engage, express views and be listened to, develop agreed understandings, work collaboratively and make joint commitments to reduce disparities.

But this can be hard to do.

Pragmatica has expertise to support building trusted relationships including:

  • ways of looking at relationships from a complexity informed view, which help identify progress from new angles
  • An evaluative framework to assess the extent to which funders and providers are developing trusted relationships.


Sensemaking, the process by which people give meaning to their collective experiences, is essential in evaluation, research and facilitation design. It promotes deeper stakeholder engagement and can lead to better insights and more use of the research or evaluation undertaken.

Pragmatica designs sensemaking processes; at the start of a project, during data collection, for exploring results and determining the next steps.

We have learned ways to help navigate values and needs between different stakeholders using sensemaking processes.