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

Apr/10

5

Mike Morris on Managing Relationships With Stakeholders

My name is Mike Morris and I’m Professor of Psychology at the University of New Haven, where I direct the Master’s Program in Community Psychology. My research focuses on ethical issues in evaluation, and I am an Associate Editor of the American Journal of Evaluation. The best book I’ve ever read for managing my relationships with stakeholders in an evaluation was not written by an evaluator, nor was it written specifically for evaluators.

Rad Resource: Peter Block (2000). Flawless Consulting: A Guide to Getting Your Expertise Used (2nd ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. http://www.josseybass.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-0787948039.html

Among organizational consultants this book is legendary. Evaluation is, in my view, one form of consultation, so it’s not surprising that Block’s book is relevant to our work. His discussion of such issues as entry/contracting, dealing with resistance, and managing the feedback of results is invaluable. Central to his analysis is the concept of “authenticity,” which means putting into words what you are experiencing with stakeholders as you work with them. It might sound a bit scary at first, but the more you practice it, the more effective at managing these relationships you become. I also believe that Block’s approach to consulting can enhance the ethical quality of evaluations, especially in terms of helping evaluators identify strategies for raising and pursuing ethical issues with stakeholders.

Flawless Consulting is exceedingly well-written. It probably helps that Block does not have a doctoral degree, since writing a dissertation is a process that can extinguish one’s ability to compose a sentence that anyone would be interested in reading. Flawless Consulting gets very positive reviews from my students. I hope you’ll agree with them.

Want to learn more from and with Mike? He will be the guest for the week of April 18-24 on the AEA Thought Leaders Online Discussion Forum. Learn more at http://www.eval.org/thought_leaders.asp

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2 comments

  • Dawn Couch · July 12, 2010 at 6:26 pm

    After reading this post I went out and bought Flawless Consulting and can’t say enough good things about it.

    I am a consultant specializing in economic development who has served primarily public municipalities and private foundations. I have been exploring a new career focus in program evaluation and have spoken to many people who are also mid-career: a few years out of graduate school and are finding themselves increasingly in a project management role. Often our graduate school training focused more on the technical aspects of evaluation and analysis, and as we move into more managerial roles we are limited in the resources (time, money) we are able to direct towards professional development and cultivating the skills necessary to maintain excellence. I found Block’s approach to be a great, cost-effective resource to meet this need. His approach to consulting is extremely valuable for people who must work simultaneously as an inside consultant to the principle investigator as well as an outside consultant to the client. I second Mike Morris’s recommendation!

    Reply

  • Author comment by Marcus · April 5, 2010 at 9:08 am

    Hi Mike,

    Block’s book is indeed excellent; it’s my go-to whenever I’m working on an organizational consulting project. Thanks for spreading the word!

    Reply

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