Short: Eight months ago I started out on my own. I was excited and ready. I chose words to guide and center me.
Long: First, I am far from an expert on the ins and outs of values, mission statements, mottos, slogans, visions, etc. I am, however, a strong believer in knowing what moves us. When I began dreaming of consulting on my own, I knew I needed something to center me. As I sat down on day 0, I had the world open to me. I had so many thoughts of ways I could approach my work, agencies to work with, fields to explore, etc. However, I knew I needed to do this from a place of “Brad”. I got to be driven and kept awake by the potential impact of evaluation and data. I got to obsess it and spend time with it. I got to be humble. These three words, humility, data, and impact are centering for me. They remind me why I spend that extra energy considering my position and privilege in a space. They remind me why I owe so much to the sharers of the data. They remind me that fun analysis and charts fall short if I don’t drive towards impact.
Why Humility – led?
As I step into a space, it is not my own. As a consultant, I know I am stepping into worlds in which I am not the expert. I am an expert but not in your field. I am confident in what I bring but I am a fool if I don’t humbly listen and learn to adapt what I bring. I am led by humility because I know the final outcome is better served when I hold my expertise in parallel with yours.
I know I know. Data is a buzz word and of course, we all want to collect it, review it, and use it. But, as an evaluator, I want us to go a bit deeper. I want to expand our understanding of what data is (not just numbers and quotes). I also want to us think differently about what it is telling us or not telling us. I chose to ask new or different questions of it. I want to broaden the conversation of who makes decisions with the data. The more minds reviewing and looking at it, the better decisions we can make with it.
I have the pleasure of working with many organizations and individuals supporting communities that have been mistreated and underserved. If I, as an evaluator, was simply here to ensure programs are functioning as designed (monitoring), I do not believe I would be maximizing their (the programs or agencies) potential. While most programs do benefit from monitoring activities as well as funders requiring it, the next step in evaluation seems to be where the rubber meets the road.
Learning from and listening to evaluation findings allows the program to build on itself and improve outcomes for the next implementation. Leaning into strengths and acknowledging gaps is essential in the growing stage