Last night, Cathexis’s founder, Martha McGuire, presented at the August Evaluation Café event in Toronto. These bimonthly networking and knowledge sharing events provide an opportunity to meet new people, share ideas, and build a sense of community among evaluators in the GTA. Martha’s presentation focused on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and the shift that we, as evaluators, should be making to incorporate these goals and indicators into our evaluations. She argued that the SDGs are important in Canada as well as in low-income countries, and noted that Canada must pay special attention to achieving these goals in our indigenous communities.
One aspect of the talk that we found particularly noteworthy was Martha’s focus on why evaluation is so important: it’s about finding out what works. She acknowledged that finding out what doesn’t work is often much easier, but that the real excitement lies in discovering methods and approaches that make a difference; she shared several examples of such evaluations. Later, Martha touched on her use of Appreciative Inquiry, a powerful tool in evaluation that tries to imagine what could be, examining failures and asking what they would look like if they were successes. Martha’s optimism and enthusiasm about evaluation were infectious, and generated a lively and collaborative group discussion around developing and sharing indicators.
Evaluation Café events are always interesting and a great opportunity, and we highly encourage anyone interested in evaluation to sign up and give it a try!