On Evaluation

by Jan Yuill

An evaluation was done of the Consultation Event on May 11th, together with Trudy Sutton, Executive Director of Housing Help, and the consultants who were present. I had expressed a wish that Trudy was taking away something more concrete from the session. Then Julie reminded us that a deeper and wider perspective is worthwhile in and of itself.

‘Something concrete’ would belong in the Resource Management quadrant (bottom left) of the Organizations Alive! model. It is the quadrant where measurement occurs, and where we tend to look for proof of effectiveness.

But what about using the other three quadrants for evaluation? Did participants contribute expertise and insights (Membership Potential)? Did anyone receive anything wanted or needed (Customer Service)? – i.e. new connections, knowledge about the model, ideas, resources, links, etc. Is the big picture clearer (Strategic Vision)? – e.g. for Housing Help, the Ottawa volunteer community, using Organizations Alive! with non-profits, the future Consultation Events, etc.

These three do not lend themselves easily to measurement or proof (just by their definitions!), which means ‘evaluation’ must take a different form. Such things as the narrative, storytelling, personal testimony, a changed mind, paradigm shifts, hindsight, etc. are all valuable outcomes! But to evaluate them, … first they must be understood in their uniqueness, then they must be valued, and only then can appropriate measures be found.

Evaluation still belongs in the Resource Management quadrant. (Thanks, Don, for holding firm on this.) But the Strategic Vision, Customer Service, and Membership Potential influence on it, and are influenced by it.