The Malaysian Evaluation Society will host its 2012 conference in Kuala Lumpur, 10-14 September. Evaluation capacity development (ECD) will be one of its sub-themes as well as the focus of a half-day seminar. ECDG commends MES for the prominence of this important topic. Evaluation capacity development is beginning to receive the attention that it deserves.
As the demand for ECD grows, evaluation organizations should consider expanding their orientation to address this need. Besides preparing evaluators to do better evaluation, professional development training should include the tools necessary to become a critical friend to guide the ECD process. The term “critical friend” refers to an individual, often times an independent consultant, who acts critically, or analytically, to help an organization devise a plan and an appropriate process to strengthen its evaluation capacity.
This is a win-win scenario. It is good for the organization seeking to enhance this capacity. A trusting relationship is established and a comprehensive ECD strategy is created with the help of an experienced evaluation professional – someone who will be around as questions arise along the way. Rather than a one-off job, where the consultant maintains the capacity, this undertaking involves a longer-term relationship with strategic inputs of support.
Critical friends have a different skill set from that of a conventional evaluator. They need to know everything that evaluators know. They need to know training and facilitation methods. They also need an understanding of organizational development.
This is an untapped professional development opportunity that should be advanced by evaluation associations and societies – VOPEs (Voluntary Organizations of Professional Evaluators) as coined by the EvalPartners Initiative.
A main focus for EvalPartners should be to help VOPEs retool for the future by adjusting their missions and visions to meet this new demand.
Hope to see you in KL,