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

Aug/10

23

Judith Kallick Russell on Translating Findings Into Action

Hello Colleagues! My name is Judith Kallick Russell. I am an independent evaluation consultant in civic engagement, community development and peace building. My clients are national organizations (NGOs) and international organizations (UN agencies, international NGOs and foundations). In my work, I have found that it can be challenging at the report writing stage to provide findings and recommendations which are easily translated into actions for clients. The following are some ideas to address this.

Hot Tip: Include boxes or comments on the side in the findings section which suggest questions for reflection. There may be findings which raise questions you feel require further consideration by the client. Including thought provoking questions or comments in the report – visually separate, but linked to a finding – can encourage the client to explore the issue after the consultancy is completed.

Hot Tip: Frame your recommendations in stages or levels. Some organizations are not ready or able to make big changes at the moment of the evaluation. Once you learn from them what they feel capable or interested in doing, you could structure your recommendations providing options with stages or levels. For example, you might want to describe recommendations for a particular issue according to good, better and best.

Hot Tip: Make time for dialogue when finalizing the report. Consider establishing a process for finalizing the report in the very beginning. You might want to gain informal feedback from a few key stakeholders. Then provide a finalized draft to a representative group within the organization. Maybe conduct a workshop about main findings and recommendations, encouraging participation and collective thinking to deepen their understanding of the issues they face. Incorporate all input into the final report as you see fit. Be sure to focus who you ask input from and what input you are asking for, give clear deadlines, and phrase communications in a way where you are not stuck waiting for someone’s response.

If you want to learn more from Judith, check out the sessions sponsored by the Independent Consulting TIG on the program for Evaluation 2010, November 10-13 in San Antonio. Hope to see you there!

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3 comments

  • Anjie Rosga · February 23, 2011 at 12:00 pm

    Thanks much for putting these thoughts and experiences into writing, Judith. I share a similar client-base and can confirm the tips are superb. I’ve indeed found these strategies helpful (esp. 1 & 2 — I need to do more of #3!) but hadn’t stepped back to think through exactly *why* they work.

    Reply

  • Admin comment by Susan Kistler · December 8, 2010 at 10:16 am

    For those interested, the materials Judith Russell used for her presentation on Translating Findings into Client Action, Session 748 at the Evaluation 2010 Conference, can be accessed here: http://bit.ly/RussellFindings

    Reply

  • Author comment by Marcus · August 24, 2010 at 5:20 am

    Hi Judith,

    Excellent tips. Tip #1, I’ve never heard of, but it makes perfect sense as to why this would be quite valuable to clients. Tip #2 is important considering there is typically always some level of resistance to change, so having multiple options may help “warm” the client up a little. Though, I think it is important at this stage to make things as collaborative as possible, in order to increase client buy-in, as opposed to the doctor-patient model (but, I believe you alluded to this). And to piggyback on Tip #3 (another excellent one), one thing suggested by consulting guru Peter Block is to set aside adequate time to have a dialogue regarding feelings towards the findings, implementation plans, etc. So often, we become so caught up in feeding back our findings, that we leave little time to discuss the all-important “next steps.” Doing so, in my opinion, decreases the chances that your report will simply become shelved. Thanks for the contribution!

    Reply

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