AEA365 | A Tip-a-Day by and for Evaluators

Oct/13

27

IC Week: Gail Barrington on Still Crazy After All These Years

Hi there! My name is Gail Barrington from the Barrington Research Group, Inc. I’m an independent evaluation consultant and I have a perspective to share with you. The first time I attended an AEA conference, I had one burning question in mind. Should I take the risk and go out on my own? I attended a session by Mike Hendricks, Deb Bonnet and Tara Knott and came away inspired. I thought, if they can do it, so can I!

At that time a very small group of about eight to ten people showed up at our annual TIG meetings. You may be surprised to know that many of those individuals are still around today and after more than 25 years, I’m still at it too.

Our TIG now has over 1500 members. It offers an informative quarterly newsletter, a well-used listserv, several client-related tools, a lively annual meeting and dinner, and many informative presentations and panels at each year’s conference. What has not changed is that sense of community and respect that TIG members share, or that desire to support, mentor, and help each other, or that boundless, crazy enthusiasm for independent practice that keeps us all going.

Lessons Learned — What is it about independent consulting that makes it so addictive?

There are risks—busy years and dry years, good clients and bad clients, dream projects and horror stories. And then there are the business management issues, marketing challenges, liabilities, responsibilities, headaches. It’s hard to plan with all this uncertainty going on.

At the same time, the benefits are irresistible. Nothing beats the sense of exhilaration you get when you finally realize you’re making it on your own, or when you client calls back for another project, or when you finally receive that check you’ve been waiting for. Call it an adrenaline rush if you like, independent consulting gets into your system and will not let you go.

Rad Resources: Independent consulting is fraught with challenges as well as learning opportunities. Building community, project management, working solo compared with sub-contracting, handling thorny data ownership issues, and business development are some of the most critical topics for an independent consultant to learn. This week’s posts will feature a wealth of information on exactly those, so please stay tuned!

For even more information on important consulting topics, check out my blog at Barrington Research Group.

Get Involved: And while you’re at it, why not join the Independent Consulting TIG. You’ll be glad you did.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating IC TIG Week with our colleagues in the Independent Consulting Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our IC TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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