The vivid picture of the ‘tiny blue marble’ as seen from space that is our only home, Earth, conjures many emotions. Though the feeling of smallness is not one of them for me, nor are the challenges that Michael Quinn Patton laid out in his keynote welcome speech at the AES evaluation conference in Launceston.

MQP has once again outlined the immense challenges that we face in our sector – how to transform evaluation to something more relevant when applied to global wicked problems. It is never hard to see how much work is to be done, but it can be hard for me to see, practically, how I can do things differently to meet this challenge.

A few takeaways from MQP’s talks that sit like a dot on my forehead is his picture of ‘interocular significance’. Transformations are big, and it should not be hard to see them. Systems change and complex transformations are not just de rigueur, they are the basis of the global challenges we face (particularly in international development related to alleviating poverty, responding to climate change, reducing human trafficking, etc). Fact checking claims of contribution to transformations is one of our key roles: was there really a contribution from THIS intervention? 

And finally, it’s not a multi-disciplinary conference without a shout-out to power relationships and networks – these are dynamic and are important to capture in the transformative evaluation frameworks if you are to better monitor, evaluation and learn and adapt. “It’s Human Centred Transformative Evaluation, duh!”