At the recent joint IDS-Itad Centre for Development Impact (CDI) conference – Impact, Innovation and Learning: Towards a Research and Practice Agenda for the Future, I was very struck by Ole Winckler-Andersson’s characterisation of an ‘evaluation market’ and an imperfect one at that.
With some (but by no means all) of evaluation’s usual suspects in the room – evaluation managers, consultants, academics – it was interesting to hear how different our perspectives are and how much energy we spend on defining what divides us – our own version of CP Snow’s two cultures. But it was also stimulating and encouraging to hear how much shared enthusiasm we have for bridging these divides and for making evaluation better and more relevant. Of course there are many gatherings of the great and the good of the evaluation world but it does seem that CDI has something significant to add, by bringing stakeholders together to discuss evaluation pragmatically and to search for innovation and learning on the practical problems and challenges that we encounter. I wonder what the next gathering would be like if we invited some evaluation procurement staff, politicians, journalists, beneficiaries….to join the throng.