This past week I attended a presentation by Bryan Orlander about Organizational Assessment, hosted by the Indiana Evaluation Association. Bryan had lots of practical wisdom to impart during his talk, but one of the points that he raised that really hit home for me was that fact that some organizations view evaluation as friendly and helpful activity which they fully embrace, whereas others view it with great fear and are therefore more reserved or even resistant to evaluative initiatives.
One of the challenges we sometimes face as evaluators is working with clients that don’t fully embrace the evaluative process as a means to foster improvement rather than a mere proclamation of a program’s successes and failures. While it is a pleasure to work with clients who fully understand and value evaluation from the start, it has also been one of the highlights of my career as an evaluator to help others come to see the benefits of evaluation…and to subsequently help their organizations move from evaluation-loathing, to evaluation-loving! I think all evaluators should ask themselves: Do your clients see evaluation as a fierce enemy to be avoided or a fluffy friend to be embraced?