Hello! I’m Michelle Baron, an Independent Evaluation Strategist. In my work in higher education, I’ve encountered a mixture of evaluation champions and critics. Today I’d like to address the importance of strategic planning in building a culture of evaluation.
Strategic planning is considered by many to be an organizational road map by outlining the organizational vision and mission, establishing clear and attainable objectives and goals, and then developing processes for how to achieve them. Strategic planning and evaluation go hand in hand in moving the organization and its programs forward to benefit its stakeholders. Strategic planning is simply crucial to the evaluation process: without a road map of criteria, standards, and goals, it’s almost impossible to achieve desired success.
Evaluators have a unique role in helping organizations with both ends of the spectrum: creating a foundation through strategic planning, and then conducting evaluations to examine and monitor progress.
Hot Tip #1: Start at the top. Buy-in from top management for strategic planning is of the utmost importance for its success.
Hot Tip #2: Conduct a SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) of the entity or its programs/services. Doing so not only enlightens people to a variety of ideas and questions to consider, but can also indicate the level of support for those topics.
Cool Trick: Brainstorming sessions are often an excellent starting point for the organization itself or smaller group within that organization. The evaluator or designated member of the organization can facilitate the discussion by developing questions beforehand that may serve as prompts for the discussion, such as those dealing with objectives, goals, and resources.
Rad Resource #1: Strategic Planning for Public & Nonprofit Organizations by John Bryson, and related books by the same author, provide the groundwork and tools necessary for organizations to develop and sustain their strategic planning process.
Rad Resource #2: The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization by Peter Senge helps leaders establish the foundation and philosophy behind strategic planning, and helps them develop their long-term thinking for organizational growth.
With these tools and resources, evaluators may be more prepared to assist organizations in strategic planning, and have more support for and effectiveness of the evaluations for the organizations.
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