A few days ago I got an inquiry from a manager of one of the growing community programs in Central Alberta. She inquired about evaluation and how they should go about it.
One of the things I noticed is that from all the other networks that I have traveled is that she is the only one who had the courage to inquire about evaluation as one of the elements of her program development. The word “evaluation” conjures feelings of fear of being found out that they have failed, fear of being found out that their work is insufficient, just plain fear.
It is a normal feeling but evaluation is a standard program requirement these days. And the “no money, we are a non-profit” doesn’t work too. Don’t use these excuses to know about this important topic. The initiative to know is why good managers stand out from the crowd.
The question is how you are going to deal with the “you don’t know what you don’t know” challenge.
· The first thing is to do is to ask the right questions and acknowledge that you don’t know anything about it. Organizations refuse to seek outside help because they want to keep their independence but there are no resources internally that can actually provide enough momentum for the kind of change/result they want to see. Staying independent but not knowing what to do is not the smartest move.
· The second thing is to seek experts and people and organizations who have done it before and learn from their success or failure. Look around your sector and talk to organizations that are in better shape in this area and learn how they came to be. You do not have to reinvent the wheel.
· The third thing is to seek ways to get a beginners knowledge and understanding that will propel you to commit to small actions that are building blocks for something greater in the long-run. It is about being a champion or an initiator in your office. Tell your boss that you want to improve your program development skills and get the best practice in results-orientation out there. It will help your organization move incrementally as you seek to be enlightened and later champion progress in this area.
An inquiring mind is a good start. The more you learn about something new, the more you can begin to see its value and usefulness in your organization. Take small steps and you will never regret it.
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