A diamond standard of evaluation

Dione Hills

10 / 12 / 2015 11.23am

Dr Dione Hills, principal researcher and consultant at the Tavistock Institute of Human Relations proposes a different standard of quality to add real value to organisational development (OD) intervention.

Many have heard of the ‘gold standard’ of evaluation where research methods that provide strong proof of causality, such as experimental methods, are favoured. But what if, as is often the case with an OD intervention, an experimental research method is simply not appropriate, practical or feasible?

How can the quality of the evaluation be judged when the ‘gold standard’ doesn’t apply?

I’m proposing a different standard of quality, one which has the qualities of a diamond. It is valuable, multifaceted, shiny, attractive and durable.

The diamond standard of evaluation, is one that begins with careful planning and is one that makes best use of the multifaceted nature of evaluation activities to add real value to the OD intervention.  It starts by asking how an evaluation might add value i.e. what would be the central purpose of undertaking an evaluation. It then helps the practitioner to make the right selection from the wide range of approaches, strategies and data collection methods available, to ensure that the evaluation addresses this purpose.

Good planning helps ensure that the evaluation addresses the right questions, and provides useful feedback to real people in a timely manner, enabling them to work towards ensuring the OD intervention is targeted and effective.

Use of logic mapping (which lies at the heart of most theory driven evaluation strategies) helps all parties involved visualise how the OD intervention will achieve its aims. It helps to articulate what success might look like and what data could be used to track and demonstrate progress.

Expanding the range of data collection techniques used, incorporating methods which make the best use of the latest technology and considering ways in which findings are shared, can ensure that the evaluation and the OD intervention itself attracts attention.

Effective measures of progress, once tested through the initial evaluation, can also be built into everyday practice. These provide an ongoing ‘feedback loop’ to keep change on track in the longer term (durability). A sparkling result!

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