Editorial comment: Today’s summer reflection comes from ECDG’s president, Karen Russon.
I recently read that “low hanging fruit” is a cliché that is past its time (over ripe?) and should be removed from our lexicon. Too bad, I really liked the visual of that one.
I was reflecting on that yesterday while out foraging. A favorite summer activity, I enjoy picking blackberries unobtrusively located at the back of a small green space smack in the middle of my town. No one seems to notice them.
I gingerly try to avoid the prevalent thorns and the stinging nettle that are waiting to attack as I reach for those sun drenched ripe berries high up on the bushes. Despite a carefully planned strategy, I will have my shirt caught a few times, get some sharp pokes and will walk away with berry-stained fingers tingling from the nettle.
While setting my sights on some berries that were just out of reach, and knowing I would probably get pricked for my effort, I noticed that there were numerous clusters of ripe berries down low with minimal effort required for picking: low hanging fruit.
And thus came to mind the connection between this cliché right before my eyes and developing evaluation capacity.
A dynamic evaluation system complete with sound evaluation policies, a robust evaluation budget, well-trained evaluation experts and an organizational culture where evaluation is integrated into the fabric of the institution is that perfect cluster of sun drenched berries at the top of the bush.
Today’s thought – Do not overlook the (sorry folks) “low hanging fruit” as you endeavor to develop the evaluation capacity of your organization.
- Developing evaluation capacity at a sub-unit or departmental level can yield models of evidence-based decision making and showcase evaluation’s potential to upper level leadership.
- Adding evaluative activities to individual job descriptions provides greater knowledge of the results of one’s efforts which in turn adds more meaning to one’s work. This can be anyone’s job description – staff, volunteers, management, governance.
- Even without a designated budget for evaluation training, other resources are available. Professional evaluation association members share their knowledge through formal/informal presentations and by acting as mentors to others; collaborative evaluations with other institutions offer mutual learning opportunities as well as shared costs; and arrangements can be made with external evaluators to act as critical friend/coach with in-house staff.
Enjoy the summer (in the northern hemisphere) and happy picking,