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

Oct/12

10

IC Week: Susan Wolfe on Small is Beautiful–the “Jack of All Trades”

My name is Susan Wolfe, the owner of Susan Wolfe and Associates, LLC, a consulting firm that applies Community Psychology principles and evaluation skills to strengthening organizations and communities.  Being a “Jack of All Trades” is one way to combine the skills and core competencies of evaluation and community psychology to be successful as a small independent evaluation firm.

Lessons Learned: The core competencies for Community Psychology include program development, implementation, and management; organizational, collaboration, and coalition development; community organizing and advocacy; policy analysis; and information dissemination.

By combining Community Psychology and evaluation competencies I can offer a greater range of services, including strategic planning, grant writing, facilitation, community advocacy, and organizational capacity building.  There are pros and cons to this.

  • Pros: Diversifying my business means I am not reliant upon a single contract or line of services. Having an understanding of program development, implementation, and management helps me design evaluations that are more realistic based on a deep understanding of programmatic and organizational constraints.
  • Cons:  Maintaining boundaries across activities is difficult.  It means being careful not to influence what you are evaluating and maintaining the distance necessary to remain objective when you have been involved in project development.

Hot Tips: These tips may help you expand your current set of evaluation skills so you can successfully offer a broader scope of services to existing and potential and strengthen your evaluation services.

  • Look outside the evaluation field for workshops or certification programs to develop new skills.
  • Identify the skills gaps in your area.  Is there a shortage of people who can facilitate development of a strategic plan or write grants that get funded?
  • Use your other skills to enter new areas where evaluation work might be available. If you are writing a program grant, will it require an external evaluator?
  • The logic model you developed for your evaluation may be a powerful tool for facilitating a staff retreat.  Consider using it to communicate with staff about the evaluation and increase their participation in evaluation activities.

Rad Resource:  For more information about Community Psychology, click here.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating the Independent Consulting TIG (IC) Week. The contributions all week come from IC 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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