In this blog one of our Senior Consultants Stuart Raetz shares his experience of Summit Workshops.

A ‘summit workshop’ is a workshop that Clear Horizon often runs at the end of a collaborative outcomes reporting (COR) evaluation. The summit is usually the grand finale to an evaluation, which may have run for months or even years. Recently I’ve run a few summits that have coincided with the end of a program.  When this happens summit workshops are a great opportunity for people to look back over the life of the program.  Summits are great because they bring together (1.) data – sometimes lots of it – and (2.) people – program managers, funders, participants and beneficiaries – those who have the lived experience of a program or an interest in its outcomes.

In a summit we simply get the participants in a room, often for a day or two following the completion of data collection, and we facilitate a structured process of going through the data to ‘make sense’ of the evaluation findings. One thing that has occurred to me over the course of running a number of summits is that this process is basically the same as the ORID facilitation technique. I’m not all that sold on the acronym ORID but lets put that aside for a moment. The basic format for a summit is outlined below.

Evaluation step*
What happened?
Present data
Objective. ‘Just the facts…’. Hold your judgement.
So what?
Make sense of data
Reflective. Reflect on the data; think about it in its own right…
Interpretive. Interpret the data taking into account your values.
What now?
Decisional. Decide on what to do now.

So what I have found this means in practice is that summits have a simple foundation that is actually quite intuitive. The premise of getting those who know and value a program the most together, to decide on what is important for its evaluation makes sense to me. The challenge as a facilitator is to guide this process and contain the inclination of some people to go straight to the judgement stage (while others may linger reflecting). When this happens I often find myself saying ‘hold your guns we are not at the decisional stage yet!’ or something to that effect.

*Acknowledgements to Jane Davidson for these steps.

Stuart Raetz

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