Creative evaluation, anybody?

Can I put in a plug for the notion of 'creative evaluation' of projects? I've had plenty of experience over the years, as commissioner of research and as writer of project evaluation reports, which leaves me feeling stifled by the box-ticking approach we're expected to take. Typically the evaluator is expected to serve up a statement of project objectives, an account of what happened, and is required to answer the question of whether the stated objectives were achieved. On a good day we get to hear about all the unanticipated outcomes. There is usually a nod (or a bow or a curtsey perhaps) in the direction of some kind of objective neutrality. No wonder there is so much shelfware about.

Could we start taking seriously the notion that an 'evaluation' is an opportunity for more creative exploration of the issues that have been brought to the surface? Most of these reports cannot be expected to be fully objective; but they could be more penetrative, more interpretative, and often could be expected to bring-in a wider range of experience to enrich the reflection on the project lessons.

Comments

Longtitudinal evaluation

As well as being co-operative and creative, evaluation needs to be seen as a built in part of every project, designed and enacted fromt he beginning (not just at the end). Also, can we talk about evaluation 'after' the project - i.e. a few years after the initial government funds ran out?

Collaborative Evaluation

Here Here!

However I think that this could be difficult given that many organisations find it difficult to work in an Open Source stylee.

Maybe it could be part of the contractual agreement for partnership?

Collaborative evaluation

I do think there is a chance that this project may be evaluated in such a way. This is a pilot project but not in the sense that the OTS don't know what they want but in the sense that it is a learning experience for all involved.

We have a very postive on-going experience with the net:gain project which we are delivering on behalf of CapacityBuilders (CB). net:gain is a completely different way of delivering capacity building support to the sector (more later!). And so it is a learning experience and CB is as interested as we are in the learning. Everyone involved works incredibly hard on the programme but it has been a question of facing (together) one challenge after the other.

The successful OTS partner (ie the winner of this tender) will hopefully be able to set up a strong and trusted relationship with the OTS and both parties will need to work in partnership to make it a success. I don't mean that the project will will have a high overhead as far as the OTS is concerned but the OTS will need to be flexible and supportive. After all, this is the ethos of the Labour government. They don't want to 'sub-contract' with the 3rd sector to deliver services on their behalf, they believe that we are 'better together'. This 'better together' approach should apply to the 'Innovation Exchange' as it does to the delivery of public services.

 

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