Nothing makes me more excited about blogging than when I have the opportunity to share new evaluation ideas. “Actionable Evaluation Basics:Getting succinct answers to the most important questions” by Jane Davidson provides insights that will be new to many regarding making evaluation more meaningful to stakeholders.
In this minibook Dr. Davidson defines actionable evaluation as:
- clearly relevant to the key actions, decisions, and thinking of those the evaluation needs to inform
- going right to the heart of what is really important, and doesn't get lost in the details;
- favoring approximate answers to important questions over accuracy to four decimal places on trivia;
- resisting being lured into a focus on the outcomes that are most easily measured;
- presenting findings in a way that is simple, but not simplistic;
- useful — at both strategic and practical (or operational) levels;
- influencing and clarifying thinking, action, and decision-making; and
- providing insights that help people figure out what actions to take.
To get to actionable evaluation she presents the six critical elements and then details how one, as an evaluator, addresses each of these elements in an evaluation:
- a clear purpose for the evaluation;
- the right stakeholder engagement strategy;
- important, big picture evaluation questions to guide the whole evaluation;
- well-reasoned answers to the big picture questions, backed by a convincing mix of evidence;
- succinct, straight to the point reporting that doesn't get lost in the details; and
- answers and insights that are actionable, that we can do something with.