BEING AN EVALUATOR
I care deeply about the value of evaluation in the era of the Anthropocene.
It can help us to understand and better deal with our interconnections and interdependence.
It can help accelerate the transformative development of societies in the Global South, and of Indigenous societies worldwide.
It can support the transformations we need for humanity and nature to be in partnership, in balance, in harmony with one another, and to live within planetary boundaries.
Evaluators carry a great responsibility. If our work is used, it can affect a few or millions of lives, many ecosystems, even our whole planet. It can do enormous good. It can also cause enormous harm.
Evaluation is demanding, philosophically, intellectually and technically.
- It demands technical, social, ethical and political acumen while we balance our empathy with distance from our emotions.
- Evaluation cannot be done well unless the evaluator thinks in (complex adaptive) systems, strives to understand the complexity of situations, integrates matters, and searches for what lies beyond the obvious.
- We need to be aware of our own values and biases when we grapple with the spectrum of worldviews, designs and methodologies in which evaluation theory and practice are rooted.
- We have to have life experience, aware of the key forces that have shaped, and are shaping the societies where we conduct our work.
- We cannot focus on simplistically conceptualised “silver bullets” or “best practices”, or be insensitive to the political nature of evaluation, to evolving contexts, or to different worldviews.
- We need to judge based on monitoring, research and evaluative evidence, using our experience and intuition. But we also need to understand and be clear about the set of parameters, values, models and ideologies within which we do this.
- We have to be aware and alert, within reason, to external trends and influences – and yes, not naïve.
We have to learn deeply from experience and from one another, especially from worldviews, perspectives and cultures different from our own.
We have to cherish the opportunity, in this challenging era, to contribute to a better world.