Washington Evaluators Brown Bag
by Melanie Hwalek
September 12, 2013
The evaluation is so “ho-hum.” People aren’t actively engaged. They’re not seeing the evaluation experience as useful. They don’t seem to care about the results. What is wrong? EvaluationLive! is a framework that describes the gestalt of an evaluation experience characterized by a sense of urgency, excitement, and hunger for learning for both the stakeholders and the evaluator. EL! asserts that an engaging evaluation experience will occur when certain things are present in the evaluator, the client, and the relationship between them.
Melanie Hwalek is CEO and founder of SPEC Associates, a non-profit program evaluation and process improvement organization with a national reach that is headquartered in Detroit, Michigan. SPEC Associates is distinguished as the first evaluation organization to be highlighted for its exemplary practice in the American Journal of Evaluation. Melanie received her Ph.D. in Social Psychology from Wayne State University in 1980 and has been practicing program evaluation ever since. After more than 30 years of evaluation practice and directing more than 200 program evaluations, Melanie and colleague Mary Williams (former director of evaluation at Lumina Foundation and private evaluation practitioner) conceived of EvaluationLive! as a way of understanding why some evaluation experiences are simply “ho hum” and others generate what Csikszentmihalyi calls “flow” – defined as “a state of heightened focus and immersion in activities such as art, play and work.” EvaluationLive! argues that when a skilled evaluator and an experienced social programmer co-create a learning environment where each brings their respective skills and knowledge equally to the table, flow-like experiences happen. Melanie’s presentation focuses on describing the elements of EvaluationLive! with audience discussions about what evaluators can do to bring more of their evaluations to life.