The smart people over at GOOD magazine have put together some intriguing blog posts about the shortcomings of purely quantitative evaluation. Sounds exciting right? Well all that comes back to this simple question they pose in one recent article, “how might we put people at the center of evaluation?”
I hold a special interest in this because I am a part of an organization that does economic development work in northern Uganda. We constantly find ourselves caught in a struggle to want to help as many people as we can, while being able to truly care for people in a holistic manner. Is it better to impact a lot of people with the value of a new skill or education, or to take a small handful of people from point A to point Z – providing them with all the lessons and opportunities to grow?
I honestly don’t know which is better, but ultimately this idea comes into play. Quantitative numbers and facts don’t capture the whole story of what’s going on. As we attempt to measure the effectiveness of new innovations or old systems, we must hear from people. Their personal stories will shine light on what impact those innovations have truly had. Ex: as an organization you could put 1,000 kids through school, but if that education system is poor, those kids really are no better off.
The fact of the matter is that human-centered evaluation is more difficult; it’s personal. To share life with people and to take the time to get to know their story is a process. And this isn’t just within developing nations, this principle is universal, but it’s importance isn’t recognized enough. If these same principles could be applied to our western culture I know you’d learn of drastic facts. How millions of people were spiritually/emotionally bankrupt during times of economic success, or others feeling freedom through downsizing.
What would the headlines look like if reporters and economists alike shared a human-centered view of our current economic situation?
Read the articles from GOOD here:
How Might We Put People at the Center of Evaluation?
How Can We Measure What’s Most Meaningful?