LAWG Week: Bernadette Wright and Ladel Lewis on “Delivering the Goods”

We are Bernadette Wright and Ladel Lewis. As evaluators, we often get into the habit of noticing the merit and worth of others’ activities everywhere we go. We may question the effectiveness of marketing materials we see, customer service processes we experience at local stores, surveys we’re asked to complete, and so on. Yet sometimes we neglect to self-reflect on the impact of our own activities—Are we “delivering the goods,” or just delivering? “The shoemaker goes barefoot,” is a saying some have used to describe evaluation researchers who are not evaluating their own work.

Recently, we had opportunity to evaluate our activities as part of our work with the Washington Evaluators (WE) Membership Committee. Other evaluators can use similar techniques to apply evaluation to benefit the activities of their AEA affiliate or their own evaluation work.

Hot Tip: Try creating a logic model diagramming what you are accomplishing and how. During a recent Washington Evaluators board meeting, as the group discussed why and how we want to build membership, Ann Emery sketched a logic model (posted on Twitter) showing inputs, services/activities, outputs, and outcomes. Committees and board members can refine and update the logic model over time. A logic model can help committee staff see how their work fits into the bigger picture, and it can communicate to members what the organization is doing for them.

Cool Trick: Use research evidence and outcomes data to strategically focus energies and resources where they can do you the most good. For example, a 2010 WE Needs Assessment membership survey found that members were highly interested in networking opportunities and mentoring. Membership statistics collected through the WE online membership form provided insight into numbers of active members and lapsed members, numbers of student and professional members, and industries where members worked (e.g., private corporation, self-employed, non-profit, government, university). Comparison with AEA membership data revealed that many AEA members in the Washington, DC area were not members of Washington Evaluators. Based on these results, the Board and Membership Committee developed strategies that aligned with membership interests and identified needs, such as targeted networking events for specific groups like job-seekers and independent consultants.

Rad Resource: While you are visiting Washington, DC for the AEA Conference, consider making an escape from the hustle and bustle to enjoy the wonderful parks that the City has to offer. If you’re looking for fun hiking trails, beautiful woods and views of the Potomac River, and excellent bird and wildlife watching opportunities, Theodore Roosevelt Island and Rock Creek Park always deliver! We are Bernadette Wright and Ladel Lewis, and we approve this message.

How have you used evaluation to ensure you are delivering the goods?

This is the last of three weeks this year sponsored by our Local Arrangements Working Group (LAWG) for Evaluation 2013, the American Evaluation Association Annual Conference coming up next month in Washington, DC. They’re sharing not only evaluation expertise from in and around our nation’s capital, but also tips for enjoying your time in DC. 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 contribute to aea365? Review the contribution guidelines and send your draft post to

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