Kevin Harris's blog

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.

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