Conventional evaluation and strategy approaches insufficiently address the needs of social innovation to adapt to non-linear and emergent change processes. This study addresses this shortcoming by testing a recently developed conceptual framework (3D) for the purpose of adaptive strategy and evaluation. We translated the 3D framework into a practice tool (SCALE 3D [Strategic Capacity development, Leadership and Evaluation in 3 Dimensions]) and applied it in two projects and four workshop settings through an action-research approach, involving networks of community-led sustainability initiatives. We describe practical benefits and suggest process steps for implementing SCALE 3D, as well as overall lessons learnt. We discuss how SCALE 3D can support transformation-oriented networks in alignment with adaptive strategy and evaluation approaches, to support strategic learning as well as reporting, and thereby help practitioners adapt to emerging changes and be accountable to funders. Our findings are relevant for evaluators, action researchers, strategy consultants, funders and social innovation practitioners supporting transformative networks.