My name is Leah Goldstein Moses, founder and CEO of the Improve Group. As a lifelong learner and cheerleader for evaluation, I was completely geeked out when I learned that the 2012 AEA conference was going to be right in my city. And as the leader of a growing team of evaluators, I knew I wanted to get the most out of the conference for myself and the whole company. Some of the things we did might also benefit you if you are planning to attend the 2013 conference in Washington DC with your colleagues.
Hot tip #1: Set team or personal goals early. The Improve Group’s goals were varied: we had some existing relationships we wanted to nurture; we had specific topics we wanted to explore more deeply by attending sessions, and when giving presentations we wanted to try new formats (such as Ignite sessions) and get new ideas for our work.
Hot tip #2: Check in regularly and support communication with technology. In the preceding weeks and during the conference, we talked as a team about our presentation preparations, sessions we planned to attend, and social events we were planning. We planned ahead about how we would use twitter and other social media during the conference. That meant that during the conference we had easy access to information and each other as needed.
Hot tip #3: Capture lessons quickly and continue to nurture ideas. In the week after the conference, everyone in our company captured a few key lessons and related resources on a simple spreadsheet. In November, as we were making our learning and communications plans for 2013, we went back to the spreadsheet to see what we wanted to dig into more deeply and what resources we should access during the year. Finally, staff contributed to our blog throughout the year, describing interesting things they learned and how they used that information in our evaluation work.
Our enthusiasm and planning led to some tangible benefits from the conference. In the months since, we’ve been able to pull out ideas for new projects and share lessons with multiple organizations and colleagues.
The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Minnesota Evaluation Association (MN EA) Affiliate Week with our colleagues in the MNEA AEA Affiliate. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our MNEA members. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.