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Linda Delaney on Training Stakeholders for Empowerment Evaluation

My name is Linda F. Delaney and I serve as a program evaluator for my own company (LFD Consulting, LLC) in Marion, Arkansas.  Since 2005, I have worked closed with Dr. David Fetterman as an evaluator for the Minority Sub-recipient Grant Office at the University of Arkansas in Pine Bluff, Arkansas (UAPB).  I also serve as President of the Arkansas Group of Evaluators (AGEs).  I currently conduct program evaluations for 5 local tobacco control organizations in Arkansas.  These agencies implement tobacco control efforts in approximately 20 of Arkansas’ 75 counties.   The nature of this work requires collaboration through empowerment strategies to increase effectiveness.  These tobacco program coordinators must be prepared to function in interdisciplinary groups ranging from the medical/dental profession to government.  It is important that evaluators empower their clients through training them in empowerment evaluation and effective collaboration.  I will be sharing some hot tips about effective training methods.

Hot Tip: Strategically begin with the clarity and the coordination of primary stakeholder missions.  Are they congruent?  Allow the clients to share the collaborative purposes (first).  Remember, what they say is what you hold them accountable for – so ask pertinent questions that solicit the answers needed to drive the conversation in the direction you know that it must go. (Principle:  If I say it, you may doubt it.  If you say it, you believe it – and that is what you are held accountable for.)

Hot Tip: Take stock by finding out who is currently involved in the activities to complete goals and objectives.  Then brainstorm who else can be involved and why others are needed.  Make this conversation in depth.  Determine various technological tools that can help communication and partnering efforts.  (Principle:  If one understands the WHYs, the HOWs will take care of themselves.)

Hot Tip: Develop a bullet-point strategy/plan with deadlines for recruitment and implementation to involve and empower collaborative partners needed to complete planned activities. (Principle:  Together Everyone Achieves More)

Rad Resourcehttp://tobaccoprevention.blogspot.com/ is a blogspot where you can find many tips and strategies on collaboration through empowerment.

This week’s posts are sponsored by AEA’s Collaborative, Participatory, and Empowerment Evaluation Topical Interest Group (http://comm.eval.org/EVAL/cpetig/Home/Default.aspx) as part of the CPE TIG Focus Week. Check out AEA’s Headlines and Resources entries (http://eval.org/aeaweb.asp) this week for other highlights from and for those conducting Collaborative, Participatory, and Empowerment Evaluations.

5 thoughts on “Linda Delaney on Training Stakeholders for Empowerment Evaluation”

  1. Nicole Vicinanza

    Hi Linda:
    Thanks for the great idea! Knowing that you are making progress can be very motivating!–Nicole

  2. Nicole,
    One thing that is very effective is to conduct quarterly assessments to help keep grantees on track once they leave a training session. Whatever activities they have completed that support their workplan are great (additional activities are a bonus). Only those activities that are in alignment with their objectives are the ones used to determine their percentage toward the goal. It is very motivating at the midterm for grantees to see if they are at least 50% (or less/more) towards their individual objectives accomplishment. Letting them see where they are is powerful – and they know that you and the funder will see it as well.
    I hope this answers your question.

  3. Liliana and I would like to invite you to our next Collaborative, Participatory and Empowerment Evaluation TIG sessions this year – focusing on the essentials of each approach.

    Collaborative, Participatory, and Empowerment Evaluation TIG Poster

  4. Hi Linda

    Good to hear from you.

    Collaboration: Interdisciplinary Teams and Local Tobacco Control Organizations

    You make a very good point that: “It is important that evaluators empower their clients through training them in empowerment evaluation and effective collaboration.” Many folks may appreciate how important it is to work collaboratively with medical professionals and governmental agencies (in these health-oriented initiatives) but they may not appreciate (which I know you do) how important it is to use empowerment evaluation to help people learn to work together with other similar non-profits, collaborating on the same type of tobacco prevention activities. In this case, we are working together to help local tobacco control organizations in Arkansas work as part of a team instead of isolated and competing individual agencies. This has been one of our real success stories.

    In fact, one example to further reinforce your point is our united effort to use baselines, goals, and benchmarks (concerning activities we have in common) to monitor our performance and help us feedback our progress across agencies on a routine basis. It has helped us build a real collaborative where we feel we can do something about the problem. Here is example of this tool we are using in common to compare and contrast our performance as a collaborative. Placing these kinds of tools in the hands of our colleagues helps them to take control of their lives,


    I like the way you phrase your first principle: “Principle: If I say it, you may doubt it. If you say it, you believe it – and that is what you are held accountable for.”

    I think this is what process use is all about. The more that people participate in the evaluation process they more they own it. The more they own it, the more they believe it and find the findings credible and follow-up on the recommendations (because they are theirs).

    Also in the early days of empowerment evaluation, supervisors were afraid of the approach because they thought they would lose their power if everyone took charge of the evaluation. However, they have come to learn that they are still in charge – there is no threat to their authority. However, now they are holding people accountable to what they (the group) said they were going to do – making the supervisor’s job 10 times easier.

    Partnership and Inclusion

    Your second point really resonated with me as well: “Take stock by finding out who is currently involved in the activities to complete goals and objectives. Then brainstorm who else can be involved and why others are needed.”

    I have always found that the more inclusive the team (one of the 10 principles of empowerment evaluation) the stronger the initiative. Diversity is always additive. It strengthens an organization or effort. It is not even a matter of being progressive or a humanitarian – it is just common sense. As evaluators we draw help from every source we can to help figure out what’s going on and make some assessment of the situation. In addition, you never know where the greatest contribution is going to come from in a community – even your weakest link, as it were, might be the person who saves the day in a particular instance. They might also be the person who undermines your efforts if you do not seek to include him or her. You have a nice way of letting folks know that this has to be a concerted effort, a well thought out step to take – that inclusion does not just happen by itself.

    Tech Tools

    I also noticed that you emphasized the tech part of our empowerment evaluations – one of my favorite sets of tools: “Determine various technological tools that can help communication and partnering efforts.”

    You mentioned our blog at: http://tobaccoprevention.blogspot.com where folks can pick up all sorts of tips on how to use technology in evaluation, ranging from our blogs to our online surveys. Our blog has been particularly useful in helping us keep the process transparent to the larger community. It has enables us to summarize our progress in reports rapidly or whenever needed, because the blog represents an ongoing (almost stream of consciousness) approach to recording our evaluation progress. I have posted a computer screen snapshot of our tobacco prevention blog below:

    What a lot of folks do not know about our work is that we emphasize how the tech tools we use need to be philosophically in alignment with empowerment evaluation philosophy, specifically user-friendly, inexpensive (or free), and inclusive.

    In this spirit, we have used our collaborative web sites extensively. For those who are not familiar with them, they are used to enable people to post their own web pages on the same group site – telling their story both qualitatively and quantitatively. However, in the process the collaborative web site becomes part of a collective and collaborative effort (and product).

    I have added three pictures of our tobacco prevention collaborative web site for folks to see below. It highlights our cover or home page with a navigation menu on the left and a place for posting shared documents at the bottom of the page, including word-processing, spreadsheet, and slide presentation documents.

    Members of our community can also maintain a community calendar and post pictures of our projects (along with our evaluation data individually and collectively).

    This is the URL for colleagues to visit and see how we are using a technology that fosters collaboration: https://sites.google.com/site/misrgoempowermentevaluation/

    Local Affiliate (capacity building tool)

    By the way, I noticed you mentioned: “I also serve as President of the Arkansas Group of Evaluators (AGEs).” What you failed to mention is that you maintain a blog to keep members current and cohesive.

    This blog is just one of your tools you have used to bring evaluation colleagues together – following one of the principles in your blog posting: “Develop a bullet-point strategy/plan with deadlines for recruitment and implementation to involve and empower collaborative partners needed to complete planned activities.” The AGES blog helps accomplish this but on a professional development level.

    Your work has been invaluable in helping to pull folks together to help us launch:

    Arkansas Evaluation Center

    1. Arkansas Evaluation Center (http://arkansasevaluationcenter.blogspot.com)
    2. Evaluation Certificate Program
    3. Evaluation Masters

    The local affiliate, group which you lead, has become a natural resource to help build the Arkansas Evaluation Center – which is designed to build minority evaluator capacity throughout the State. I mention this to highlight how interdependent we are and how these tools are mutually reinforcing.

    In addition to building a stronger bond between the local affiliates and our tobacco prevention grantees, AGES works as a source of mentors for our new Arkansas Evaluation Center. The blog is a tool to help recruit mentors and match them with mentees. Together these technological tools of trade are useful in building minority evaluator capacity. I just thought these activities are things folks would want to know about because:

    1. they highlight your points – using real life examples
    2. they are synergistic – all working together in a mutually reinforcing way
    3. they provide some insight into the power and importance of local affiliate groups in accomplishing these goals

    Many thanks Linda and keep up the good work.


  5. Nicole Vicinanza

    Hi Linda:
    Brining together diverse stakeholders, across multiple counties can certainly be challenging. Thanks for the great tips! Also- any ideas for maintaining engagement fostered by these tips once everyone’s back off doing their own thing?

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