RE: Reporting evaluation results or communicating evaluation results? | Eval Forward

Great topic, great discussions!

Evaluation and communication are two sides of the same coin, trying to achieve similar goals (disseminating evaluation evidence for use in decision-making). By the way, they both require different skillsets. That's not a big deal.

Off to the topic. Assume we as evaluators are all teachers. We prepare lessons, ready to teach, I mean facilitate the learning process. Shall we fold our arms after the preparation and finalization of the lesson? Not at all. I am not alone, I guess, to rightly believe that the teacher will follow through even after teaching, facilitating a learning process. Building off the previous lesson, the teacher will usually recap before starting a new one. Interesting, it seems our evaluations should be informing subsequent evaluations as well!

The teacher scenario also applies here, at least in my school of evaluation practice. The essence of evaluating is not about producing reports, or reporting results. Then what? For whom and why such evaluation results are reported? Not for filing, not for ticking the box. It would be heart-breaking if we as teachers, after investing in time and resources, prepare class notes and guidance and our students never use them. Would anyone be motivated to prepare notes and guidance for the next lesson? Very few would do. As passionate and professional as we are (or should be) as evaluators, we are change agents. In our ethical and professional standards, never should we rest satisfied with reporting of evaluation results without following through to ensure evidence thereof is used as much as possible. Some evaluation principles include utility of evaluations.

To the good questions you raised, my two cents:

  • Each evaluation has (or should have) a plan for dissemination and communication (or a campaign plan for evaluation evidence use). This needs to be part of the overall evaluation budget. Evaluators need to keep advocating for dissemination of evaluation results in different formats and for different types of audience even when evaluations are completed, even one or more years ago.

  • If there are people who understand better evaluation results, the evaluator is one of them. Alongside other stakeholders who participated in the evaluation process, s/he should be part of the communication processes to avoid any misconstruing of messages and meaning by external communicators. Communicators (some organizations have specific roles such as communication for development specialists) are experts who know the tricks of the trade. Our allies.

Happy reading contributions from colleagues.

Jean Providence