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



IC TIG Week: Marty Henry on Collaboration

Hi, I’m Marty Henry, founder and President of M.A. Henry Consulting, LLC in St. Louis, Missouri.  As evaluators in a small, independent evaluation firm, the evaluation team at M.A. Henry Consulting is often asked to join others in joint evaluation ventures. We look forward to these invitations and are anxious to move forward with potential partners. However, we have learned to step back and take stock before we agree to any collaboration or partnership. We put on our evaluator’s hats. We use the data collection and analysis skills we have to evaluate whether the partnership will be rewarding for both us and the other party before committing.

There are three steps we take before agreeing.

Cool Trick #1: Talk several times with the primary person with whom we will be interacting. We send emails with questions and responses. We determine if communication between the two of us is clear, on-topic, pleasant and timely.

Cool Trick #2: During the conversation, we examine the quality and depth of evaluation knowledge and skills of our potential partner. We discuss the approaches they have taken in the past to similar evaluations and if they are compatible with our philosophy for approaching such evaluations.

Cool Trick #3: We clarify financial and other contractual agreements, specifically in terms of identifying the fiscal agent, publication rights, payment schedule and roles and responsibilities of each partner.

If we are uncomfortable with any of the three steps we do not usually move forward with the collaboration. You may have other areas that are critical to your working relationships with others. If so, include them in this list.

Collaborations can be wonderful – both in terms of working with new, exciting evaluators and in gaining insight into new approaches to evaluation. They can also be unpleasant. Identifying and evaluating the elements that are key to you in successful collaborations will enhance the possibility of the former and reduce the possibility of the latter!

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Independent Consultants (IC) TIG Week with our colleagues in the IC AEA Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our IC  TIG 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 evaluators.

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  • David Fetterman · April 6, 2011 at 3:01 am

    Nice job – highlighting the caveats. Although collaboration is fundamentally a healthy and rewarding endeavor (learning from the good and bad experiences), it is helpful to walk into it with your eyes wide open. Many thanks.



  • Juan-Paulo Ramirez · April 5, 2011 at 9:51 am

    Marty: Very good cool tricks! I would add that also is important to know how much extra work your partners can take. I think this is important to know because it’ll tell you what level of efforts they can put into the evaluation.


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