Cross-silos Principle

Connect across sectors and issues.


Problems are embedded in systems. To target the problem without changing the system of which it is a part is to provide only a partial solution and one unlikely to endure. Moreover, problems are often intertwined. Interconnected problems within and across systems require systems change strategies to have lasting impact. Solving problems piecemeal leads to piecemeal solutions.


  • Changing systems is different from implementing projects. Evaluating systems change is different from evaluating projects and programs. Programs and projects are based on a linear logic of causality. Evaluation of programs and projects follows that linear thinking.
  • Systems consist of interdependent elements interconnected in such a way that a change in one element changes connections with other elements and, reverberating through the set of system interconnections, may change the system. Tracking those changes for evaluation purposes requires mapping methods and ways of capturing changes in system interconnections and their dynamics.
  • Systems thinking applies to situation analysis, intervention design, engagement, implementation, adaptations, and developmental evaluation.
  • Cross-silos design and evaluation tackles multiple issues at once and likely requires a Blue marble team with diverse knowledge specializations and interdisciplinary capabilities.
  • Evaluation questions may include: To what extent and in what ways is an initiative working across silos in both processes and results? 
  • What are the interactions across sectors, issues, indicators, and problems, and how do they intersect for mutually reinforcing systems change? Look for both anticipated and unanticipated interactions.