Kylie Hutchinson on Writing Better Recommendations

I’m Kylie Hutchinson, independent evaluation consultant and trainer with Community Solutions Planning & Evaluation. I also tweet regularly at @EvaluationMaven.

Have you ever wondered what evaluation recommendations and SpongeBob SquarePants have in common? Well, in my opinion, a lot.

Think about why we make recommendations. We want stakeholders to take action on our evaluation findings. But we all know this doesn’t happen by magic. And it doesn’t occur as soon as we submit our final report either. In fact it can be months or years before managers and policy-makers are actually in a position to make decisions based on our findings.

In order for utilization to happen, I think recommendations need to be three things:

  • easily absorbed (at the time of first reading)
  • sticky (so they stay in the minds of decision-makers)
  • have ‘legs’ (so they prompt action).

Hmmm…now think…what has good absorption, is sticky, and has legs? Exactly! SpongeBob SquarePants!


Rad Resource: Here’s a tip sheet on Recommendations That Rock!

Hot Tip: Well-written recommendations don’t have to check every tick in the box, but they do deserve significant attention. Don’t leave them to the end or the last minute. Instead, keep a running list of your initial ideas as soon as they occur, even if it’s at the beginning of the evaluation. And always run them by your stakeholders to increase ownership and the chances of implementation. Better yet, develop them collaboratively during a data party.

Rad Resource: You can find a Pinterest page with other resources for writing better recommendations here.

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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