When I talk to people who are interested in evaluation, they often ask me what my favorite tools are – expecting me to tell them about the latest survey or analysis software. Thanks to some innovative work by my colleagues, I have a surprising answer: a volleyball.
How can a volleyball be an evaluation tool? At a recent event where we were gathering data from participants, we taped evaluation questions all over a volleyball. As participants caught the ball, they answered whatever question faced them. It was a great way to quickly get them engaged and open them up to possibilities.
Over the years, I’ve learned that without careful attention to stakeholders, evaluation can become boring, burdensome, and resented. But, with a little thought, evaluation can be fun and engaging. And when it is fun and engaging, you gather better data – because people who are comfortable, and know you’ve thought about what their needs and priorities are, are more likely to share deeper feelings and thoughts. Over the last few years, The Improve Group has taken this keen insight and developed an approach called Community Responsive Evaluation that is all about engaging stakeholders.