The "under-the-table" reality
The worst is over for the moment and in some places, thanks to farsighted management of health policies, quite exhaustive patience of large parts of the population and perhaps many other factors yet unknown. Yet, there is no back-to-normal in the pre-pandemic perspective. Home office, internet-based communication and evaluative processes at distance are characterising our "new normal". This is pretty insatisfactory to say the least. It sort of "rationalise"s what we do: Each interaction is purpose-related, driven by a businesslike mindset, contributions are tailored to the technology and the entire body-language and atmospheric perceptions of a live-gathering are missing. Such tele-meetings are often dry, people reluctant to speak more than necessary and the agenda compliance rather than insight and learning driven.
Hence, improvisation must go on. It is important that we develop subtle and innovative approaches to capture relevant information and signals beyond the evaluation mandates in the strict sense. A valuable appreciation of an evaluation subject is but possible by way of gauging its immediate context, its atmosperic inferences or in other words all those elements that are less visible, tangible, "under the table". It is precisely that indirect component of an evaluation that is suffering most under the present situation of process constraints. So, triangulation of opinions between concerned stakeholders is even more important than in a direct interaction where in a group interview, you may make out power imbalances and resistance instantly. Our basket of formal evaluation methodology is incomplete without the social and emotional intelligence that is required to address the "under the table" reality of a programme.
| Martin Sommer
Owner Consultant devolutions Ltd.