Oksana Barley on the Evaluation Emergency Preparedness Toolkit

I am Oksana Barley. I am a home-based evaluation practitioner and I meet my clients in their chosen space. I always set out with what I think of as my Evaluation Emergency Preparedness Toolkit.

Rad Resource – Toolkit: Here are the items in my Toolkit.

  • Graph Paper Notepad: I find it easier to explain things graphically, and to take notes (tables, lists, etc.) on graph paper. My Moleskine graph paper notebook is always at hand, ready to capture ideas and conversations, and to provide space for sketching and sharing.
  • Resource List: This is a separate notebook, broken down by categories, and filled with contacts, names and information on topical reports or documents, etc. I use this to connect people with other people, ideas, and resources.
    • Hot Tip: I also write down items that others recommend, and put an open circle for those that I should read and then fill in that circle once read.
  • Calculator: A calculator makes for easy and quick calculations. Doing them on a calculator (rather than in a spreadsheet or analysis program), can make them more understandable and less intimidating.
  • Post-its: Great for on-the fly sharing, and for easy collaborative categorization (one per sheet, rearrange as needed). 
  • Guiding Principles for Evaluators: Using AEA’s Guiding Principles for Evaluators demonstrate my professionalism and illustrates the standards that I use when conducting an evaluation. Having a copy ready to give out reinforces my commitment.
    • Hot Tip: Send an email to office@eval.org, with your mailing address and a polite request, and they will send you 10 copies for free.
  • Tiny Gift: I read Laurel Lamb’s aea365 Tip where she suggested saying thank you with a small gift. I had learned to fold Origami Peace Cranes with my children and I give them as a way to wish peace to, and give thanks to, those I work with.
  • Business Cards: For years, I never bothered with business cards. Are the best $50 I ever spent. My cards give my contact details, but also reinforce my commitment to professional, inclusive, practice.

Hot Tip – PortaFiles: I used to toss all of these items together in my purse, but the paper ones would get crumpled, the pens lost at the bottom, and I looked unprofessional as I rummaged around to find them. Now, I use PortaFiles from Ultimate Office (see picture). I know I am going to sound like a salesperson, but I love these. They are expensive, but hold up forever, never get crushed, and can be color-coded with the rings at the top.

What are your ‘don’t leave home without it’ items when you are on the job? Please share via the comments.

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

2 thoughts on “Oksana Barley on the Evaluation Emergency Preparedness Toolkit”

  1. I use 2 online resources that are critical to my Toolkit:

    -Box.net: Lets you organize and manage a workspace that includes hierarchical folders with different user permissions and access. You can encourage transparency, giving your clients access to information in specific folders while team members have access to work-in-progress folders.

    -Dropbox.com: Whether you use for your own files management or for the team, this keeps your docs. and data accessible anywhere. Since I use multiple computers, I know the Dropbox files are kept in sync – and are also available from anywhere.

  2. Oksana, I love PortaFiles! We’ve used them for years – I have ones that are five or six years old and still going strong and they get carted all over the country in my purse and luggage.

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