Inciting Change! Using Common Evaluation Tools and Approaches to Improve Program Planning and Strategy
Session Number: 2443
Track: Government Evaluation
Session Type: Multipaper
Tags: evaluation and strategic planning
Session Chair: Thomas J Chapel [Centers for Disease Control]
Presenter 1: Ted Kniker [Enlighteneering, Inc.]
Presenter 2: Matthew J Birnbaum [Institute of Museum and Library Services]
Presenter 3: Thomas J Chapel [Centers for Disease Control]
Time: Nov 12, 2015 (11:00 AM - 11:45 AM)
Abstract 1 Title: 21ST Century Evaluators' New and Vital Roles
Presentation Abstract 1: 21st Century Evaluators serve a vital role in helping organizations to understand and adapt in dynamic environments. So do change agents. While the evaluator is typically a formal role within an organization, change agent often is not. Increasingly, evaluators need the skills to lead and/or contribute to transitions for the organization, program, and people. Understanding how an effective change process integrates with an effective evaluation process is essential for evaluator success. This includes requirements definitions, readiness assessments, strategy and planning, communications, and customer coaching. This presentation will address the intersection of the evaluation and change agent roles and processes, the touch points where the evaluation process has significant influence on the change efforts, how evaluators can lead both processes for success, and how the evaluator as change agent is a critical contributor to organizational culture.
Abstract 2 Title: The Interdependence Between Practitioner and Evaluator in Logic Mapping
Presentation Abstract 2: Logic models are one of the strongest unifying concepts in the evaluation profession. While nuances differ, evaluators tend to “guide” practitioners to a more rigorous view of what their actions are intending to do. Yet the adoption of any approach to logic mapping is constrained by the circumstances that tie evaluators and practitioners together. The interdependence between practitioner and evaluator in logic mapping is the focus of this paper and is examined in a case study of a multi-year initiative to transform the evaluation scheme for the nation’s largest grant program for libraries. The case study documents the limits of an evaluation team leader’s initial attempts to “improve” theory of change during logic mapping. The reasons for these limits are explained by the ways that the evaluators and practitioners have found common ground. These individuals had numerous reconciliations of differences of theory regarding how change arises and what measurement counts in testing such theories. The paper concludes by reassessing evaluation theory in contrasting a comprehensive rational approach with an incremental, transactional one. This theory is then used to assess different evaluator roles as objective technicians and political facilitators. A suite of propositions is offered for future testing in exploring various models and evaluator roles inherent in logic mapping.
Abstract 3 Title: “Process Use” and Strategic Planning: CDC’s Evaluation Framework as a Strategic Planning Approach
Presentation Abstract 3: CDC’s Framework for Program Evaluation in Public Health commits evaluators to use of evaluation findings for program improvement. But doing so means evaluators must be involved early in the planning process. When that happens, the early steps in the Framework—stakeholder engagement, program description, and evaluation focus—invariably lead to insights on planning and implementation. This session describes how CDC’s evaluation framework and its steps and standards have been used as a strategic planning approach that is actually superior to more traditional planning approaches. Using some program examples, the session will show how logic models lead to better visions, missions, and SWOT analyses. And also how stakeholder engagement and evaluation focus—standard evaluation step—make strategic plans, and their component objectives, strategies and tactics, more feasible, useful, and successful.
Audience Level: Intermediate
Often, evaluation and evaluators are consigned to the last stages of a program’s life cycle. When that is not the case, the timing of evaluation findings is in synch with program decision- making cycles and can inform program implementation and improvement. Furthermore, the early steps in most evaluation frameworks force programs to systematically consider activities, outcomes, and their underlying logic. This clarity feeds evaluation design of course; but may point out errors in program design or logic that predispose it to failure. These can be corrected in real time, and long before evaluation begins. In this session, the presenters will discuss how evaluation thinking and evaluators can and have enhanced program planning and implementation, the frameworks being employed, the challenges in integrating evaluative thinking and the planning process, and how these attempts burnished the “brand” of evaluators as experts adding value to program efforts in real time.
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