Often times evaluation is viewed as an end-goal (i.e., something that has to be done as a requirement of a grant) rather than as a means to an end (i.e., a process that yields valuable feedback that can be used to make a program stronger). I’d assert–as would most evaluators, I’d wager–that the later presents much greater potential for enhancing a program or organization’s ultimate likelihood of success.
In his presentation at the April meeting of the Indiana Evaluation Association, Bryan Orlander explained that it is important to consider and ask organizations how many resources they’ve allocated to conducting assessments, in comparison to the resources they’ve allocated to being responsive to the outcomes of those assessments. With little or no funds allocated toward being responsive to evaluative findings, an organization arguably loses out on a good deal of the value that can result from evaluation. This was a good reminder that we need to be asking our clients how they plan to use and/or act on evaluation findings and to encourage them to think beyond the final evaluation report to make sure they’ve allocated resources to act on findings and implement recommendations.