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Dal Brodhead and Ricardo Ramírez (New Economy Development Group): DECI as a case study: Learning our way into utilization focused evaluation

DESCRIPTION OF THE CASE

Title case:
DECI as a case study: Learning our way into utilization focused evaluation

Subject of the monitoring and/or evaluation:
UFE is an approach to evaluation that emphasizes the use of the findings and the process itself. The central premise of Utilization-Focused Evaluation (UFE) is that evaluations should be judged by their utility and actual use. In UFE, evaluators facilitate a learning process with attention to how real people in the real world apply evaluation findings and experiences. 

In designing a utilization-focused evaluation -- the attention is constantly on the intended use by intended users. UFE does not prescribe any specific content, method or theory. It is a framework, as opposed to another methodology. UFE can include a wide variety of evaluation methods. It is a process for making decisions in consultation with those who can benefit from the evaluation. It is based on the fact that intended users will more likely utilize an evaluation in which they have ownership.

Through the DECI project, we were able to test-drive UFE with five Asia based partners. All partners were networks or project hubs involved in information communication technology for development (ICTD) research. One consisted of  23 different health research groups; another was introducing ICTD research into Mongolia, and several provided small grants and coaching to help young scholars gain skills and confidence in this emerging field.  We helped produce five evaluation reports that were used, and we prepared a case study summarizing each. On that basis, we produced a Primer on UFE for evaluators, that is available for free in English, French and Spanish.

We learned that UFE works as decision-making framework. Its emphasis on focused uses enhances utilization of findings, as well as the evaluation process by constantly drawing attention to the overall purpose of the evaluation. We learned about the value of training via mentoring and about the importance of ascertaining readiness for this approach to create conditions that allowed it to thrive. 

PROFILE CASE OWNERS


Name of case owner: 
Dal Brodhead

Organisation:
New Economy Development Group        

Country: 
Canada

Current function:
Director of the New Economy Development Group and co-Principal Investigator based in Ottawa, Canada

Your role in the Utilisation case:
He is the Director of the New Economy Development Group, a value-based consulting firm that hosts the DECI-2 project. 

Other relevant experiences/background:
Mr. Brodhead has held senior posts in various federal departments, and he directed a national research project on regional development for the Economic Council of Canada. Internationally, he served as a project manager for CIDA's largest micro-credit project worldwide in Bangladesh, as well as leading evaluation and monitoring missions a number of developing countries.

Mr. Brodhead presently manages a portfolio of consulting projects in Canada in the fields of community economic and rural development, citizen engagement, and participatory evaluation. In addition, he is a frequent facilitator specializing in organizational capacity building, community-driven initiatives and Board development. He also has extensive experience working with Aboriginal, rural and northern communities in Canada. Both he and Ricardo Ramirez have jointly led the DECI 1 and now the DECI – 2 Projects focussing on the practical application of UFE and research communications frameworks to IDRC funded projects in the ICT area in Asia, Africa and Latin America.


Name of case owner: 
Ricardo Ramírez

Organisation: 
New Economy Development Group

Country: 
Canada

Current function:
Co-Principal Investigator  based in Guelph, Ontario, Canada

Your role in the Utilisation case:
Co-Principal Investigator in DECI

Other relevant experiences/background:
Ricardo Ramírez is an independent researcher and consultant based in Guelph, Ontario, Canada, and an associate of New Economy Development Group. His consulting and research work includes communication planning, participatory evaluation and capacity development, both domestically, with First Nations, and internationally. He began his career in agricultural sciences that he followed with demonstration farm projects in Latin America. He switched to the field of adult education and rural development.  He has worked with the Communication for Development group at FAO, Rome, with non-governmental organizations, and with consulting firms. His doctoral work in Rural Studies focused on information and communication technology for rural and remote community development. For two years he was professor in the School of Environmental Design and Rural Development at the University of Guelph where remains as adjunct.  Together with Dal Brodhead they just published the book Utilization focused evaluation: A Primer for evaluators (Southbound, Penang 2013) – based on five practical experiences.