Michelle Baron on Involving Stakeholders in the Evaluation Process

Hello, I’m Michelle Baron. I am the Associate Director at The Evaluators’ Institute (an evaluation training organization), and the Chair of the aea365 Tip-a-Day Team. Today I’d like to share with you some strategies for involving stakeholders in the evaluation process.

In today’s fast-paced, information rich world, one of the most helpful pieces of guidance we can provide organizations is how they can effectively use the vast array of data they have about a particular program, product, or process.

I have found in my work that integrating stakeholders throughout the evaluation process provides the needed motivation for stakeholders to use the information and to seek out evaluation training to build their skills.

Hot Tip: Provide stakeholders tangibles and intangibles with each step in the evaluation process. Instead of waiting until the end of the evaluation to provide information, updates, or reports that are several inches thick, we can show stakeholders techniques and the reasoning behind them with regard to the status of their particular project. The Chinese proverb says it best, “Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll understand.

When planning the evaluation, for example, you may provide stakeholders with a copy of the logic model, SWOT analysis, or other planning tools and information discussed in initial meetings. You may also provide them training on how to use that or similar information once you as the evaluator leave.  When doing data analysis, you may introduce stakeholders to various quantitative and qualitative tools and how they’re used within the given evaluation.

Hot Tip: Don’t be afraid to train the organization as you conduct the evaluation. While some clients would rather have you simply conduct the evaluation and depart, others are interested not only in findings and implications, but in the “how” and “what” of evaluation.

Ask yourself: What can you teach others, in the short time you have, to help their business improve – to open their eyes to new information?

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@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.


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