It’s that time of year again. The team at Clear Horizon have returned from their respective holidays—hiking the Andes nourished only by water and thoughts of the year to come; making prides of lions more efficient in the African savannah; lying on a desert island accompanied by the wisdom of the latest publication by a celebrity evaluator—and are excited to jump in to 2018 with gusto.

2017, wow. What a year, right? Wrong. If 2017 was a confusing poster of a dolphin with an inspirational quote about “keeping your fin up”, 2018 is an out-of-context quote from a Penguin classic—it doesn’t matter which one. Which is to say, it is going to be a really, really great year.

This year, we hope to:

  • pay deliberate attention to purpose
  • capture useful data in a timely manner
  • experiment with methods and apply them in appropriate settings
  • work in areas focussed on policy and systems change
  • build connections in the evaluation community.

Tom Hannon, Senior Consultant

“Bringing realist approaches into pilot evaluations”

My eval-ution is to experiment with bringing some more realist approaches into pilot evaluations. We are increasingly being asked to evaluate exciting new social innovations, particularly place-based community pilots. These clients don’t only want to know what happened in the pilot community, they are also interested in the potential for scaling to other contexts. Realist evaluation looks at what works, in what situations and why, nailing some efficient realist methods will help us to meet client needs and contribute to spreading what works.

Rini Mowson, Research Assistant

“Monitoring and Evaluation Plans for policy influence”

The aid program is changing from directly supporting development outcomes such as ensuring access to clean water, reducing maternal and infant mortality rates to influencing policy and institutional change. In 2018, I would like to focus on working with clients to develop and implement Monitoring and Evaluation Plans for policy influence programs and projects.

Byron Pakula, Principal Consultant

“Dial M for Monitoring”

This year I will be doubling-down my effort on improving monitoring with my clients and partners. Without a good quality evidence base, which is dependent on implementing the monitoring systems well, the evaluative information is severely wanting, and the reporting is sub-par. So in 2018, Dial M for Monitoring!

Damien Sweeney, Principal Consultant

“Be prepared to capture emergent outcomes”

As we evaluate more complex and innovative programs, 2018 will be about developing and implementing the tools and processes to capture lessons in a timely manner, and inform adaptive management; get ready to probe, sense, and respond.

Lee-Anne Molony, Managing Director

“Pay more deliberate attention to understanding evaluation context”

In 2018 I plan to pay more deliberate attention to understanding evaluation context, which is also known as situation awareness. This aspect of evaluation practice is recognised, in different ways, as a core competency by the various professional evaluation associations/societies. Its acknowledgment as a core competency highlights its importance for evaluation practice, but it is also more broadly applicable to the wider range of work we do. I recently participated in an a research study being conducted by Sarah Mason of Claremont Graduate University/Centre for Program Evaluation, University of Melbourne, which seeks to understand evaluation-specific situation awareness requirements, and improve evaluators’ situation awareness skills. One of the outcomes of the study is a situation awareness checklist, which should be extremely useful for those who like more structure to the way they approach their practice - like me! I’m looking forward to utilising the checklist to be more deliberate about understanding context.  

Liz Bloom, Research Assistant

“Remembering why we are here”

As a new member of Clear Horizon I hope to work with clients in a way that allows purpose to remain at the centre of their design and evaluation work. This means understanding the positive change that the client is trying to bring about in the world and keep it at the centre of discussions. In doing so I hope to utilise the passion of both the Clear Horizon staff and of our clients to act as a driving force for excellent work.  

Angelos Blackwood, Consultant

“Bridge the qual and quant divide”

I want to use the Qualitative Comparative Analysis method in 2018. QCA bridges qualitative and quantitative analysis through both capturing the richness and complexity of individual cases, whilst identifying cross-case patterns. The strength of QCA is that it not only identifies how factors combine to generate a particular outcome, as an outcome is rarely due to one factor in isolation, but if there is one combination or several different combinations that led to the outcome and in what contexts these combinations occur.   

Jess Dart, Founding Director

"Evaluating initiatives for systems change"

My resolution is to read, and think more about how to evaluate initiatives that have ambitions around systems change. It seems to be a growing trend and I think we evaluators need to get together and think about how we might apply our craft to this fast evolving space.

Edgar Daly, Research Assistant

“Appropriate methods for different evaluation contexts”

In 2018, I want to build on the development opportunities I have had in 2017 to strengthen my understanding and practice of evaluation theory and data collection methods. For example, I want learn more about which data collection tools are suited to different evaluation contexts. I think this will help me to do rigorous and insightful evaluations in the future. I also hope to work on projects that motivate me, including in collaborative design contexts where solutions to complex social and environmental issues are being sought.

Nathan Delbridge, Consultant

“Extend my network within the evaluation community”

My new year’s evalu-lution is to get more involved in AES.  I want to extend my network within the evaluation community in order to learn from the experiences of other evaluation professionals and share my own experiences.  I want to attend more of their events and develop a stronger relationship within my Community of Practice.