Greetings friends! I’m Christen Pentek, a youthworker in the Twin Cities. I rather stumbled into evaluation, trying to figure out how to nourish critical consciousness in community in sustainable ways. This is a post about vulnerability, inspired by the grounded research of Brene Brown.
Rad Resources: One ‘rad resource’ is Brene Brown’sTed Talk, capturing reflections on how people build genuine connection. Evaluation can be a process that can open potential for beginning greatness; a more concrete explanation of this might be captured in the continuous improvement flywheel that Jim Collins uses in his book, Good to Great.
Lesson Learned: My favorite questions are the ones that begin with “I am not sure I am allowed to ask this…” Why? Because these questions help pinpoint where we have work to do with ourselves and the things we care most for.
One of the issues that I had when I started doing evaluation work was the desire for people to posit me as a professional, and therefore, as expert. Humans, it seems, are apt to ask incredibly complex questions of perceived experts. I started saying “Let us figure that out together.” Vulnerability works toward solutions when we come together in conversation. And, each of us cannot do this work alone.
As evaluators, we join with people to help them find answers to their pressing questions. I am sometimes asked questions that I am not qualified to answer – but I can work to connect with whomever is qualified. Sometimes I am asked to speak to questions where the person asking has more insight. We each have the power to call out greatness when we experience it, as well as to remain silent and not acknowledge each other. Evaluation can be about separating who holds which knowledge, and how these crucial pieces of information can be and already are shared in useful ways. Evaluation can also be the place we create together, to investigate, act reflectively, and question.
And know, it is okay to encourage and ask the ‘dangerous’ questions; the strengths will come through this too. Evaluation is where we might lean into the spaces where we are vulnerable – where we can ask hard questions. Give yourself permission to claim what you want to do better.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org . aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.