Re-thinking Evaluator Competencies in an Age of Discontinuity – One Minnesotan’s View




  • Implications of the pandemic for rethinking evaluator competencies
    • When people’s lives are at risk, evaluation may seem, or even be, less important
    • Traditional ways of conducting evaluations simply don’t work
  • Everyone is an Evaluator
    • An evaluator’s job is to help build on what exists in a setting
    • The power of people in community
  • Free Range Evaluation
    • Commitment to building people’s capacity to do and use evaluation
    • Funders rarely interested in paying for capacity building; they typically support accountability and Western “science”
  • Implications for “training” evaluators
    • (Note: there is a difference between education and training)
    • Enter every evaluation context with humility and an openness to learning (add to this: curiosity, nimbleness, and empathy)
    • Be willing NOT to be the expert.  Not everyone can do this – unlearning is required. Raises questions about how we select people to become evaluators.  Are there some people who have an innate sense and ability?
    • Foster, support, and believe in evaluation capacity building
    • Build on the knowledge systems people already have in place (Indigenous knowledge)
  • How to work in communities
    • You need the support of positional leaders
    • Identify, support, collaborate with evaluation advocates in situ (do not call them evaluation champions – this is seen as competitive)
    • Develop/teach/learn from evaluation liaisons – community members who learn enough about evaluation to engage others, advocate, and support the process
  • A key requirement: commitment over the long haul
    • This is not how most contracts are written
    • Must be able to respond to evolving contexts/crises
    • Suggests why teaching community members may be a cost-effective way to proceed
  • “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” – Arthur Ashe