I think of evaluation as an ‘open system’, constantly shaped and moulded by the social, political, and economic contexts within which it is embedded. I am deeply interested in the evolution of the practice (in fact, this is the topic of the professional doctorate thesis that I am currently working on!) but within this evolution my work is guided by a set of values that has informed the Tavistock Institute’s approach to evaluation for many years: good evaluation starts with the right people, asking the right questions and for the right reasons; it is about evidence generated through appropriate methods, but going beyond standards or hierarchies and valuing different kinds of knowledge and experience; it is about engaging in collective reflection between people about the meaning of what they do and how they do it and what to do next.
My work at the Tavistock Institute focuses on designing and delivering process and impact evaluations, often of complex and innovative projects and programmes across several policy and practice areas. Because of the nature of these projects, I use primarily theory-based evaluation approaches. I work extensively with the public and voluntary and community sector in the UK and the EU, and I also support organisations to strengthen their own evaluation capacity, through training, 1:1 support, or simply being a ’critical friend’. I use my understanding of organisations and change gained through the Tavistock Institute to work with evaluation stakeholders to ensure that the process of the evaluation itself, and its findings are meaningful, useful, and usable.