Things that stood out to me in the preface of Developmental Evaluation:
- Talking about his book “Getting to Maybe,” Patton says, “the editor seemed, like many people, to have an allergic reaction to the very word evaluation.” (p.ix)
- Similarly, “You, savvy reader that you are, mark yourself as different by even holding the book in your hands. But do be careful who you let see you reading it. Not altogether kind judgments and consequences can ensue from being associated with evaluation.” (p.ix) This is definitely something I’ve experienced – where you walk into a room as the “evaluator” and you get an attitude that you are an auditor who is there to find an excuse to cut your funding/cut your job/tell you that you aren’t doing things correctly. I find the best way to combat this is to talk openly about what I actually do (e.g., I’m not there to make an absolute judgment on a job/program, but rather I’m there to see what works well (so we can do that more), what isn’t working as well (so we can figure out how to make it work better – which might mean eliminating barriers to people being able to do their work) and that we all have the same goal – the best care possible for our clients, fulfilling and meaningful work for staff, being good stewards of public resources. This is about both getting buy in from stakeholders, but also about building the evaluation capacity/evaluative thinking in our staff.
- “People matter. Relationships matter. Evaluation is not just about methods and data. Studies of evaluation use have consistently found that evaluation use is significantly increased when those in the position to make decisions understand the importance of reality testing and care about using data to inform their decision-making.” (p.xii). This is about building evaluation capacity/evaluative thinking in our decision makers.
“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I intended to be.” Douglas Adams