Blue Marble Evaluation Operating Principle 5: Yinyang

Each week, leading up to the Blue Marble Evaluation book and website launch, we will be introducing a new principle of Blue Marble Evaluation. The first four weeks introduced the four overarching principles. This week we turn to the fifth of twelve operating principles. Click here to learn about the difference.

Principle: Harmonize conceptual opposites.

Premise: We live in a divided world. What is striking about the iconic Blue Marble photo from space is its wholeness. No nation-state divisions. No sector silos. No local-global boundaries. The image is neither long-term nor short-term, but now. Blue Marble evaluation aims for that wholeness of perspective as a guide to wholeness of understanding to inform holistic action. To achieve that sense of wholeness necessitates seeing and engaging with different perspectives, harmonizing opposites, integrating divisions, transcending boundaries, and overcoming polarities.


  • How you harmonize depends on circumstance, the nature of polarities you are encountering, the depth and degree of opposition, and myriad other factors.

  • The yin-yang operating principle provides specific guidance for adhering to and applying the overarching Blue Marble Integration Principle: Integrate the Blue Marble principles in the design, engagement with, and evaluation of systems change and transformation initiatives.

  • The yin-yang principle is a philosophical mindset not a procedural technique; it provides conceptual guidance for harmonizing opposites as appropriate and useful, but is not a rule that all opposites must be harmonized.

  • Design and evaluation are not intrinsic opposites, but are typically treated as separate and sequential. The Blue marble perspective of wholeness and integration applies to design and evaluation.