I’m Kylie Hutchinson (a.k.a. @EvaluationMaven), independent evaluation consultant and trainer with Community Solutions Planning & Evaluation and author of Survive and Thrive: Three Steps to Enhancing Your Program Sustainability.
The word I chose to memorialize this week is a small but important one. It’s the letter “a”, as in “She asked for a final evaluation report”.
As evaluators, many of us are accustomed to providing a single (and lengthy) final report at the end of the evaluation. However, change is in the air, and many of us would also like to see the demise of the final report because it often goes unread by busy decision makers and sits on a shelf collecting dust. But a two-page briefing note doesn’t work in all situations either. Clearly, one type of report does not fit all, which is where the concept of layering comes in.
Hot Tip: Layering is a term I coined in 2008 to describe the simultaneous use of diverse report formats to communicate your evaluation results. The purpose of layering is to give different stakeholders the option to go as shallow or as deep as they choose into your evaluation findings. It works like this. Imagine a lengthy report as the meat of a burger; it can be very heavy and take a long time to digest. Final reports are often very dense documents, and not all stakeholders have the time nor appetite to eat them. Sometimes, all they want is lettuce with a bit of tomato (e.g. a newsletter), or a slice of cheese (e.g. a podcast). Or they may be rushed and can only take a quick nibble of the bun (e.g. an infographic). Some of these users will be intrigued enough to eat the whole burger, appendices and all, while others might be satisfied with just a few bites. Layering works because each communication product contains the same key messages and is linked to a more detailed option, enticing the reader to learn more if they choose. By employing diverse communication strategies for these varying appetites, you give intended users the choice of how deeply they wish to delve into the results.
Rad Resource: A Short Primer on Effective Evaluation Reporting. In this upcoming book, I talk more about the concept of layering and present different ideas for communicating results beyond the traditional lengthy report.
The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Memorial Week in Evaluation. The contributions this week are remembrances of evaluation concepts, terms, or approaches. 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 email@example.com . aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.