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

Apr/11

23

Susan Kistler on Thinking Evaluatively in Your Everyday Life

Good afternoon! Susan Kistler here, AEA’s Executive Director and regular Saturday contributor.  I’m posting a little later in the day than usual for those who receive aea365 in real time. Why? On Friday, my husband and I finally completed the purchase of a small cottage in Provincetown on Cape Cod. We’ve been looking for a place for vacations and then hopefully to which to retire. I took Annelise’s advice from Friday’s aea365 and took time to recharge my batteries by appreciating the beauty of nature that surrounds Provincetown. Yesterday afternoon we watched the tides roll in, last night we listened to the rain on the roof, and this morning we watched for the migrating whales that were running right off the coast. We chose this spot after careful examination of what outcomes we hoped to achieve with the purchase, of the costs and benefits of this option versus alternatives, and of the financial, social, and environmental impact of our decision.

Back in March, Jane Davidson and Patricia Rogers posted to the Genuine Evaluation blog “10 ways of knowing you’ve been an evaluator too long.” It was part of their Friday Funny series. A key theme of these was actively applying evaluative thinking to everyday decisions (anniversary celebrations, dog training, etc.) I laughed as I read through them, but realized that the list hit perhaps a bit close to home. Cost benefit analysis before having a child? Check. Logic model to suss out how to improve sleeping outcomes? Check. Systematic trials of both phrases and timing to improve tips when waitressing? You bet (OK, perhaps this veered into action research). I was an evaluator even before I knew what an evaluator was.

Lesson Learned: I’m happier when I apply evaluative thinking to everyday decisions. I’m more confident about making the right choice, and definitely more likely to be satisfied with the outcome. Normally frugal to the extreme, thinking evaluatively let me make a large purchase and spend that afternoon discussing the tracks left by pebbles as the water recedes with the tides, rather than wracked by buyer’s remorse. Thinking like an evaluator gives me the space and confidence to act like a mom, a wife, a friend, a colleague.

The above is my opinion, and mine alone.

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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1 comment

  • Gwenn Gröndal · September 27, 2012 at 10:27 am

    This is my all-time favorite post. I laughed out loud when I first read it. I, too, “evaluate” all sorts of things in my personal life–and wonder why everyone else doesn’t, too! My Myers-Briggs Type is INTJ, and I think people with this type preference are naturally inclined toward evaluative thinking. I must also note how much I value aea365. I have shared links to many entries with my graduate students–especially those related to graphics and data presentation.

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