In this talk, Professor Georgie Parry-Crooke explores what the right hat or hats might be for collaborative evaluation roles.
Do you wonder about your role as an evaluator? Can you always find the right hat or hats to wear? What does a co-producer’s hat offer?
During a time of increased uncertainty and complexity, it can seem that evaluators are sometimes asked to provide or give the impression of certainty and are under pressure to offer evidenced reassurance.
Now seems a good time to review our ‘hats’ and ‘re-evaluate’ evaluation’s most useful roles. This lunchtime talk provides an opportunity to think about how far and in what ways can these roles be developed to maximise the usefulness of evaluation without promising all the answers?
Evaluators are often working implicitly but can be seen explicitly as change agents. They want their evaluations to be useful and effective, to build on strengths identified through evidence and thus offer the best learning in the context of what is realistically achievable. Evaluators offer ways to look back, be present and look forward. Central to this endeavour is making relationships work and co-production offers one approach to enhancing the relationship and holding uncertainty – as part of an ongoing conversation.
Co-production can offer a way of meaningfully working with (and walking alongside) programme and evaluation commissioners, providers through to end-users and beneficiaries as observer, evidence provider, mediator and interpreter in multi-faceted environments facing contemporary challenges. However, while co-production can underpin robust and meaningful evaluation, it can be no more than tokenistic and does not necessarily lead to more reliable evidence let alone better collaboration or improved understanding. Can we then say that co-produced evaluation contributes to strengthening evaluations and even interventions by establishing reliable relationships? And does it open up a more certain space in which uncertainty can be explored with and through evaluation evidence?