The Friday Funny: Focusing on the important things in planning major initiatives

Evaluation is not just something we do at the end of a program, nor only impact evaluation. Some forms of evaluation are needed at the beginning of new interventions to inform the planning – evaluations in the form of needs analyses, situation analyses (which assess strengths as well as gaps), and reviews of the evidence about effective interventions that are appropriate for these situations.

For these types of evaluations, as with any evaluation, the process and format of reporting can be critically important in ensuring appropriate utilization of the evaluation findings.

This week’s Friday Funny comes from the Australian TV series “The Hollow Men“. This episode describes plans to announce a major new federal government initiative (remember the days when government were announcing new ways of spending money, not new ways of cutting back?), and shows very clearly the most important features of the reporting.

5 comments to The Friday Funny: Focusing on the important things in planning major initiatives

  • Dugan Fraser

    As a fresh escapeee from the bowels of Government, I love this.

    I’m currently designing an evaluation strategy for an “initiative” that is “too grand a vision to be bogged down in detail” and I must say, it’s quite a big job. If I could only get my head around what the key evaluation questions are, things would be easier, but very (VERY!) important technocrats have more pressing things to do than talk to evaluation consultants…

  • Fred Carden

    It is always useful – and humbling – to be reminded of the relative importance of evidence in decisions….

  • Michael Q Patton

    Saturday Sadness post to follow the Friday Funny, to wit:

    The US is facing the opposite of the scenario portrayed in the very clever “Hollow Men” initiative: a $150 billion cut. In today’s NY Times, columnist David Brooks writes about several well-evaluated, high impact programs whose leaders believe that positive evaluation results will save their programs. He offers a contrary, dismal view, not very funny, I”m afraid. He writes:

    “I have to say, many of these great people are suffering under a misimpression. They assume that if they can only persuade enough people that their programs are producing tremendous results then they will be spared from the budget ax.

    “They are wrong about that. The coming budget cuts have nothing to do with merit. They have to do with the inexorable logic of mathematics. Over the past decades, spending in nearly every section of the federal budget has exploded to unsustainable levels.”

    If he is right, the evaluation implications are dramatic: “The coming budget cuts have nothing to do with merit.”

  • Great, but almost painfull to watch, its so close to the bone, :-((

    Admission: I have myself suggested a DFID activity be named an “initiative”, back in 1996 (Is that far enough in the past for me to be forgiven?)

    I have often wondered what would happen if proposals for projects/initiatives had to pass an evaluablity test, before getting approved and funded. Not evaluable = not funded. Perhaps in a parallel universe…?

  • As a clean escapeee from the bowels of Govt, I really like this.

    I’m currently developing an assessment way of an “initiative” that is “too huge a perspective to be stalled in detail” and I must say, it’s quite a big job. If I could only get my go around what the key assessment concerns are, factors would be simpler, but very (VERY!) essential technocrats have more pushing factors you can do than discuss to assessment consultants…