#1 biggest obstacle to accomplishing anything:
knowing WHAT we want to accomplish.
#2 biggest obstacle (after we figure out #1):
lack of FOCUS.
Overcoming obstacles like these is one of the reasons why I love evaluation so much. Evaluators help organizations determine what they want to do as aligned with their mission and values, and then detect progress toward those goals.
As my colleagues and I increasingly ground and focus our evaluation practices in equity, we are encouraging our clients to redefine success through the lens of what would be most equitable.
But what does that mean?? Equity is a huge word.
For me, these questions have been guiding my evaluation practice in service of equity:
To whom is this organization most accountable? What does that look like?
Who is benefitting the most from this work?
How are those being served by these programs involved in defining and measuring success? Where do various forms of power lie, and how are they shifting?
What upstream causes are we addressing? Where are we in the acknowledgement of poverty and racism as forces that keep these unequal social conditions in place?
Am I remembering and honoring the importance of my own wellbeing? Are we enhancing the wellbeing of everyone involved as both a key ingredient AND outcome of this work?
Are we able to do this work in a space that recognizes and honors the humanity of everyone involved? If not, do we need to slow down? Or start somewhere else?
These questions guide me, as I guide my clients toward defining the “what” that they want to accomplish, and then focusing on using evaluation tools like these with an equity lens to help us get there.