Puzzled woman holds notebook and thinks about resolutions

What are your New Year’s evaluation resolutions?

Published: 15/12/20 | Categories: Uncategorised, Author: Mike Corcoran

Mike Corcoran, Evaluation Specialist with the Co-Production Network for Wales, reflects on the Inspiring Impact event series so far, and discusses his New Year’s Evaluation Resolutions. 

Of the many things it has been, 2020 has been a year of challenging the status quo – a year of questioning our motivations for the things which we do, of fundamentally changing the way in which we do them, and of reflecting on whether those things which we’ve always done in the past, are still fit for purpose as we look to the future.

For those of us with an interest in evaluation, it’s of course been no exception. The environment in which we work has become more uncertain, the need for learning more urgent, and the stakes if we get it wrong more critical. Against this backdrop, over the past few months we have been bringing people together through our series of ‘Inspiring Impact’ events, to share their evaluation experiences, support one another with their challenges, and explore what it means to deliver meaningful, person-centred evaluation in the world we find ourselves in today.

We’ve been blessed to be joined by a diverse and tremendously inspiring group of practitioners, from across the UK and with centuries of collective experience. Through our panel discussions, debates and reflections, we’ve started piecing the jigsaw together: so far our explorations have included the simple questions which should underpin our evaluation approaches, how to walk the tightrope between the quality of evidence we require, and the quality of experience we owe to those we support, and how to make sure our evaluation works for us, as well as those who fund and support us.

At the end of each event, we each make a resolution, a commitment to take those things we’ve deliberated, and use them to make a positive change in our own work – it never fails to inspire.

To bring funders together for a conversation about the way we’re asking the organisations we fund to evaluate.
To find a “friendly” evaluation language.
To determine whether the guidance we offer on evaluation to our applicants is clear enough.
To adopt a more collaborative and open approach to funding.
To take opportunities to share good examples of inspiring impact through a network of practitioners and providers.
To share our evaluation with the team who delivered the project so we can all learn from the experience.
To learn more about interactive ways to evaluate.
To see funders meeting with the people they’re funding during the life of the project.
To join up co-occurring similar conversations!

(Some of the resolutions made during our ‘Evaluation, Funding and Procurement’ event.)

In 2021, our conversations continue. On 19th January, we will be discussing ‘Evaluation and Complexity‘, and on the 9th February, talking about the relationship between our evaluation, our personal reflections, and our organisational culture. Our events are free, they’re welcoming, and we invite you all to come along, join in the conversation, and make your own evaluation resolutions.

My New Year’s Evaluation Resolution? To keep exploring – finding ways for us to continue learning from one another, supporting each other and growing together. There’s no greater pleasure.

What will yours be?

Mike Corcoran works with organisations across Wales and around the world as an advisor on engagement and impact. He is a long-term associate of the Co-production Network for Wales and led the development of the Network’s ‘Measuring What Matters’ evaluation tool and WCVA’s ‘Simple Questions’ evaluation framework.