There are times when I feel a deep sense of being called to be a Christian program evaluator. But Oswald Chambers (My Utmost for His Highest, November 10 page 315) brought me up short with this thought: If I say, “God has called me for this and that,” I am putting up a barrier to God using me for God’s purposes.
“As long as you have a personal interest in your own character, or any set ambition, you cannot get through to identification with God’s interest. You can only get there by losing forever any idea of yourself and by letting God take you right out into His purpose for the world, and because your goings are of the Lord, you can never understand your ways. I have to learn that the aim in life is God’s, not mine. God is using me from His great personal standpoint, and all He asks of me is that I trust Him…”
Almighty God, thank you for the evaluation knowledge and experience you have given me over many years. By your grace I will do something totally different as prompted by the Holy Spirit. Amen.
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Meditate on Job 28: 1-21
Job, the righteous man who suffered greatly as God continued to battle against evil forces in the world, wanted answers to his questions. His self-evaluation revealed no evidence to support the conclusion that he was being punished for being unfaithful. But he strongly believed that his evaluation work was not complete until he could provide solid answers to his questions.
In this passage God’s response to Job was not a set of answers to his questions. His response itself was a series of questions not to be answered, but to reveal the awesome difference between the Creator and the created. As Job realized (42:1-6), there are things too wonderful for us to know. When we encounter mystery in our evaluation work, and we are sure that we have used our tools properly and thoroughly, let us turn away from our need to understand the world and embrace the awesome experience of being in the presence of the world’s Creator.
Thank you, Lord, for the need to know that leads me to increase my store of knowledge about your Creation. And thank you, Lord, for showing me the limits on my capacity to know things that lead me to experience awesome wonder. Amen.
Evaluation topics are discussed on many websites. These six sites currently nourish my ongoing learning about program evaluation.
Jane Davidson: http://RealEvaluation.com … Excellent resource for evaluation focused on answering the critical big-picture values questions
Jane Davidson and Patricia Rogers: http://GenuineEvaluation.com … Critical review of all types of evaluation from the perspective of Real and Practical Evaluation
http://BetterEvaluation.org … Excellent international collaboration to improve program evaluation; see Rainbow Framework of seven clusters of evaluation tasks
Jess Dart: http://www.clearhorizon.com.au … Clear Horizon is a group of enthusiastic, passionate, professionals delivering monitoring, evaluation, and planning with a strong focus on participatory approaches and facilitation
Rick Davies: http://mande.co.uk … Monitoring and evaluation news; Since 1997 the focus of this website is on methods of monitoring and evaluating the progress and outcomes of development aid programs, big and small
John Gargani: http://EvalBlog.com … Provocative discussions on various program design and evaluation topics
Actionable evaluation emphasizes sound reasoning about the significance of valid reliable evidence for answering keystone evaluation questions about how well something was done against various sets of standards, what practical difference outcomes made in the lives of people the program intended to reach, would another approach have been more effective, etc. It is not a new method; it is a perspective that focuses on answering the critical value questions more than organizing a mass of relatively trivial information.
Actionable Evaluator E. Jane Davidson challenges common views on stakeholder engagement, common misplaced emphasis on measurable indicators, and the need for a long list of specific recommendations in a report. As I understand it, in actionable evaluation the most important task is to provide sound big-picture information about the degree to which the evaluand makes positive or negative differences in practical important areas of living; information that can be acted on to improve the situation addressed by the evaluand.
I believe every evaluator of transformational development will benefit from learning about actionable evaluation. I will be posting implications as I learn more. Start with these resources:
Actionable Evaluation Basics, (2013), E. Jane Davidson, available at Amazon.com.
Genuine Evaluation blog at http://GenuineEvaluation.com.