Around the Institute

Network Effectiveness / Evaluation as Collective Work / Voice

June 15, 2012

Global Health Policy Networks
At our last advocacy evaluation breakfast, American University professor Jeremy Shiffman presented on his work for the Gates Foundation’s Global Health Advocacy and Policy Project. Focusing on what makes for an effective network around a global health issue, he touched on factors such as issue characteristics, environment/context, and network structure. Jeremy’s presentation is now up on the interwebs. Check it out!

Collective Learning
This week, The New Yorker’s “Frontal Cortex” blog featured a post bluntly titled “Why Smart People are Stupid,” which suggests that more individual introspection doesn’t necessarily result in greater self-awareness. This may be because our own biases are primarily unconscious, removed from self-analysis. For advocates looking to integrate evaluation into their work, there’s a lesson here: collaboration across multiple staff (and diverse biases) can maximize learning from an evaluation process. Having a dedicated evaluation person is good; creating a culture of learning in your organization is better.

Voice and Message
Organizations often advocate on behalf of a certain population.  Education advocates, for example, push for what they believe is best for students. But when should advocates deploy students in support of their preferred policy solution? While students may not understand the complexity of policy, recent features in The New York Times and The Chronicle of Higher Education show that student voices can make for a pretty compelling story. The key is to think strategically—about message, audience, timing, and context.