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To evaluate or not to evaluate?

This is a question that we don’t really ask ourselves, as we are often made to evaluate (to account for the money we received and spent), and to is also in our nature to demonstrate success (and hide failure..??).

A recent post by by Chris Brogan,   that we should pursue the goal, not the method (also picked up by David Gurteen, made me think about how this applies to evaluation. Often, we consume ourselves on developing and implementing a methodology to evaluate change, as opposed to actually focussing on achieving the change itself.

This made me recall a conversation with Greg Bruce, from Townsville City Council, where he and his team are achieving some transformative change, across the community, but also throughout the Council and partnering organisations.

Greg wondered whether it was of any use to focus so much effort on evaluation, especially considering the short time frames in which traditional project evaluation is undertaken (that is, during and immediately post-project). Why spend so much time, effort and money, when you could re-direct the focus towards on-ground action and transformation. For Greg, evaluation “needs long timeframes to evaluate impact to effort – in system dynamics in order to show effect”. Greg proposed that equally good indicators of success would include the buy-in of other organisations (whether through official or unofficial partnerships), receiving further grants, as well as recognition from local, national and international delegations (in in Greg’s humorous ways, “they will come and go as equally mystified as when they arrived“).

So, how much effort should we put into evaluating something that will likely occur over a long time frame, way beyond the scope of the project, or interest of funding agencies? Let us know what you think? Post a response, ask the question amongst your colleagues and network partners, and share your conversations at Show me the Change.

Posted by Damien Sweeney

| March 17th, 2010 | Posted in Behaviour Change, Evaluation |

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