I got back to the office Monday after spending last week in Chicago at the AEA annual conference, Evaluation 2015.Evaluation 2015 theme Next year AEA will be in Atlanta, October 24-29, 2016.  atlanta-georgia-skyline Mark your calendars!

I am tired. I take a breath (many breaths), try to catch up (I don’t), and continue to read my email (hundreds of email). I’m sure there are some I will miss–I always do.  In the meantime, I process what I experienced. And pass the conference through my criteria for a successful conference: Did I

  1. See three (and visit with) long time friends: yes.
  2. Get three new ideas: maybe.
  3. Meet three new people I’d like to add to my “friendlies” category: maybe.

Why three. Seemed like a good number; more than one (not representative) and less than five (too hard to remember).So the two ideas that may be three:

  1. Appreciative inquiry (AI) and evaluation. Went to a session where the one of the three presenters was the coauthor of a book called Reframing evaluation through appreciative inquiry. Although I have the book on my shelf, I hadn’t read it (my oversight). The authors state in the preface that “…Appreciative Inquiry offers evaluators at least two options–it may be simply understood and used as one more evaluation method, approach, or strategy, OR (emphasis mine) it may be viewed and used more ambitiously as a means for challenging the foundations of evaluation practice by shifting evaluation from something that can…produce incremental positive change, to something that can generate exponential radical changes in organizations and communities.” And I got to thinking about the use of AI and asset/capacity building and how that could work because the goal of asset/capacity building is to generate radical changes in organizations and communities. (One maybe two ideas.) and
  2. Use icons for little things to break up the digital report. Yes, I am a designer (at least according to Chris). I produce PDF reports which are read on the web. Chris Lysy did an amazing session on Thursday titled Beyond the PDF: Digital Reporting for a Digital World. His session raised many more questions than I (or he, apparently) have answers. Besides the take away of icons, he was very clear about sharing the value; otherwise, do not send AND the need to draw daily (I didn’t, I am now). (One maybe two ideas.)

My long time friends are fewer than in past years. I miss them.

There are more faces I don’t recognize than I do. And even though I made the effort to acknowledge and engage new faces, I don’t know if I will recognize them next year.

Will you see me in Atlanta? Most likely!



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