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Day 2 - Perspectives on use. Ricardo Ramírez and Dal Brodhead: Readiness & Mentoring: two touchstones for capacity development in evaluation

Readiness & Mentoring: two touchstones for capacity development in evaluation

Through the DECI project, we discovered two dimensions that have changed the way we do evaluations and capacity development.  Utilization-focused evaluation (UFE) begins with two ‘readiness’ steps that work as a management checklist; they are meant to verify whether the context and power balance allow for a learning approach to evaluation. Readiness refers not only to the willingness by project managers and funders to allow users to decide on the purpose of the evaluation (the users may or may not include the funders, which is often a novelty). It also refers to the attitude and approach needed by the evaluators who play a facilitator role, as opposed to an external judging role.  We have come to learn that these steps are worth investigating before signing a contract or agreeing to an evaluation consultancy. During DECI-2, we spent over a year confirming the readiness of several partners and this time was built into our agreement with our funder the International Development Research Centre (IDRC). 

The second foundational dimension that we have validated is the value of ‘mentoring’ as a means of providing capacity development in evaluation.  We offer partners 15 person days of UFE mentoring, to be delivered along a schedule that matches the needs of the partner’s project. We add two face-to-face visits, and the rest of the mentoring is done remotely.  We have come to the conclusion that this approach has merit in that we are sharing steps at the time when the partner is ready for them and can absorb the learning.  We have also discovered that the magic of UFE is noticed a few steps into the process when the users realize the power of being in the drivers’ seat. While we still do short workshops on UFE, we see their value as sensitization events, as opposed to capacity development moments.  We now favour an evaluation process which builds in mentoring along the way in contrast to one shot workshop events.

About Dal Brodhead and Ricardo Ramírez

Dal Brodhead is co-Principal Investigator, based in Ottawa, Canada.  He is the Director of the New Economy Development Group, a value-based consulting firm that hosts the DECI-2 project.  Dal brings a strong background in community development, project management and applied research in Canada and internationally.

Ricardo Ramírez is co-Principal Investigator, based in Guelph, Ontario Canada.  He brings experience in the fields of evaluation, communication for development and ICTD in rural and remote settings. He has collaborated with Dal over several years in evaluation assignments and communication strategy development.