Boris Volkov on Yet Another Role of the Internal Evaluator

We welcome you to join the Internal Evaluation week! My name is Boris Volkov. I’m Chair of IE TIG, working at the Center for Global Health (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta). All next week you’ll hear from our members, internal evaluators from different fields and organizations will share practical examples and lessons from their work on implementing and promoting internal evaluation.  Here’s just a flavor of what’s coming: reasons to (absolutely!) love internal evaluation; cool tricks to develop your internal evaluator’s brand; the importance of outlier stories in our work; and more!

I would like to thank Josh Joseph (Partnership for Public Service, Washington, DC) for his hard work coordinating this aea365 week. It is our hope that the issues to be highlighted in our blogs will be of interest and use to both internal and external evaluators.

My interest for the last few years has been in the roles that internal evaluators play in their organizations. Being involved with health organizations, I would like to use a metaphor of a “family doctor” to describe what internal evaluators do in organizations. I’ve observed that, for many organizations/programs, program evaluation is not so much rocket science as it is brain surgery… without anesthesia. It is a mysterious, frightening, and potentially painful process with a possibility of complications… and even (program) death. Some evaluation pundits might dislike such an “anthropomorphized” view, but I think we evaluate, diagnose, and provide recommendations to programs and program staff in our organizations much like family doctors do with their patients.

Lesson Learned: Be open with staff about their programs! I remember once having a doctor-surgeon who both irritably and condescendingly refused to explain a recommended surgery to me: “Just leave it to me! You don’t need to worry about it,” he said. Your guess is correct: He was not my doctor any longer. Nobody messes with my health without my awareness and participation! By analogy, evaluation “messes” with a program’s health. Quite understandably, organization members should worry about it. As internal evaluators, we should be genuine and help them to understand and participate in the evaluation process.

Rad Resource: The Hippocratic Oath is an oath historically taken by healthcare professionals swearing to practice medicine ethically. Read it, and you’ll see that it is pertinent to your own practice. Of course, The Program Evaluation Standards and American Evaluation Association Guiding Principles for Evaluators are the equivalents of the Oath and are always Radical Resources for us. My hope is that by following the Evaluator’s Oath, I may “enjoy life and art, be respected while I live and remembered with affection thereafter.”  I wish you all the same!

The American Evaluation Association will be celebrating Internal Evaluators TIG Week. The contributions all next week come from IE 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 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluator.

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