My consultation services can be described in three parts:
1. Needs assessment
The first step in building capacity is understanding the needs of the program or organization with whom I will partner. To that end, I begin every partnership with 2-3 meetings devoted to understanding the organization's work, current evaluation, organizational culture, interest in evaluative thinking, policies, programs, capacity building interests, etc. If appropriate, I may conduct informal interviews with program staff, leadership and other stakeholders to help determine the best course of action to support their development. As a result of the needs assessment, I will create a custom capacity building plan for the partnering organization and any component programs or projects as necessary.
2. Capacity Building
Capacity building in evaluation and evaluative thinking can take many forms. In, fact, the 'right' approach will look different for each organization. A capacity building plan might include some or all of the following:
- One-on-one mentoring
- Group workshops
- On-site visitation
- Theory of Change development
- Participatory analysis
- Participatory planning
3. On-going and as-needed advice
Because good evaluative thinking and evaluation work are often difficult to sustain, I offer up to 6 free hours of ongoing email and phone contact, including phone meetings with small groups as needed, to advise on evaluation work, evaluative thinking efforts, organizational culture and policies around evaluation and learning and other related topics.
The adoption of Evaluative Thinking habits depends on participating from all levels of an organization's hierarchy. Therefore, I organize group workshops for each of 3 groups: leadership, management and staff. Depending on the needs and current culture of an organization or program, we may decide to have these 3 groups participate concurrently or separately.
Workshops are truly a time to work, and practice new Evaluative Thinking and evaluation skills. As often as possible, I use a program or organization's real materials and plans as the focus of the exercises planned. This level of authenticity motivates participants, and makes the workshop time useful on multiple levels (direct use as well as general practice). Each workshop is customized. However the content will focus around several general areas:
- identifying assumptions
- posing questions
- developing pathway models
- decision making
- evaluation planning
- evaluation use
- adopting Evaluative Thinking habits
Workshops can be as short as 1 day and as long as 5 days, depending on the needs and interests of the organizations. In general, workshop days are from 8:30 am to 4:30pm.
CRS (Catholic Relief Services) Malawi, 2016 -
In February 2016, I traveled to Blantyre Malawi to facilitate a series of workshops for the staff and leadership of the Ubale (United in Building and Advancing Life Expectations) project. The visit included 3 workshops: a 3 day workshop for field-based staff focused on identifying assumptions, informal evidence gathering and reflective practice; a 3 day workshop for program managers focused on identifying assumptions, developing theory of change pathway models and posing thoughtful questions; and a 1 day workshop for project leadership focused on facilitating and supporting a culture of Evaluative Thinking.
AEA (American Evaluation Association), 2015
At the annual American Evaluation Association I, along with my colleague prof. Tom Archibald, present a pre-conference workshop on Evaluative Thinkin. This workshop is one day. We present an introduction to Evaluative Thinking, and offer opportunities to practice Evaluative Thinking focused activities.