As an internal evaluator in a multiservice community-based youth center, one of my many roles and goals is to foster an organizational culture of learning and evaluation.

What does this really mean? And how do we know whether we’ve achieved it?

One of several frameworks for thinking about organizational culture is Michael Quinn Patton’s continuum of internal/external evaluation relationships from Essentials of Utilization-Focused Evaluation. He describes 7 categories across this continuum:

  1. Entirely external
  2. Minimal ad hoc internal evaluation
  3. Occasional internal evaluation
  4. Part-time internal evaluator
  5. Full-time internal evaluator
  6. Routine internal evaluation: Evaluation happens on a regular basis; There are several internal evalaution staff members; Results are routinely reported to managers and staff; Results are used to inform decisions about the development of the program that was evaluated.
  7. Fully integrated and highly valued internal evaluation: All programs and projects are required to be evaluated; There’s a manager or director who leads an internal evaluation team; Evaluators train staff on evaluation, like how to use findings in their work; Findings improve individual programs and the organization’s processes in an ongoing way; Results are shared with the Board and other key stakeholders; Evaluation summaries are used in annual reports and other publicaations like newsletters; Evaluation is viewed as central to organizational effectiveness.

So where are we? Somewhere between #6 and #7.

Stay tuned as I share steps we’ve taken to push forward and fully embody all aspects of having a fully integrated and highly valued internal evaluation system!