RESOURCES

Evaluation Flash Cards: Embedding Evaluative Thinking in Organizational Culture

Michael Quinn Patton

Created 10/05/2015

Tools and Templates

BEGINNER

Evaluation flash cards

Introducing the Evaluation Flash Cards

As part of our ongoing work to strengthen our support for communities, the trustees and staff of the Otto Bremer Foundation engaged in a series of learning seminars on evaluation. In order to make the core concepts easily accessible and retrievable, we asked Michael Quinn Patton, who led these seminars, to create a set of basic reference cards. These became the Evaluation Flash Cards presented here, with the idea that a core concept can be revisited “in a flash.” Illustrations of the concepts are drawn from Otto Bremer Foundation grants. We hope this resource is useful to other organizations committed to understanding and improving the results of the programs they support.

Evaluative thinking is what characterizes learning organizations. Keeping up with research and evaluation findings becomes part of everyone’s job. Inquiring into the empirical basis for assertions about what works and doesn’t work becomes standard operating procedure as people in the organization engage with each other and interact with partners and others outside the organization. Critical thinking and reflection are valued and reinforced. Infusing evaluative thinking into organizational culture
involves looking at how decision makers and staff incorporate evaluative inquiry into everything they do as part of ongoing attention to mission fulfillment and continuous improvement. Integrating evaluation into organizational culture means “mainstreaming evaluation”—that is, making it central to the work rather than merely an add-on, end-of-project paperwork mandate.

About the Author

Michael Quinn Patton is an independent evaluation consultant with 40 years of experience conducting evaluations, training evaluators, and writing about ways to make evaluation useful. He is former president of the American Evaluation Association and recipient of both the Alva and Gunnar Myrdal Award for outstanding contributions to evaluation use and practice and the Paul F. Lazarsfeld Award for lifetime contributions to evaluation theory, both from the American Evaluation Association. The Society for Applied Sociology honored him with the Lester F. Ward Award for outstanding contributions to applied sociology. He is the author of six books on evaluation, including Essentials of Utilization Focused Evaluation (2012).

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