Was it worth it?

The plane tickets have been purchased to return to Cambodia in January. I know - I said I would never make that long trip and put myself through a 12 hour time change again. But I feel compelled to go. The purpose of this trip is to do a full evaluation of the program that my colleague and I began 3 years. For me this is a signficiant step and I am grateful for the opportunity to do some research and exploration around the impact of this program on the lives of the women who participated.

Consisely put we set out to design and facilitate  a two-year leadership development journey where learners follow a personalized map comprising four intensive Field Trips (in-person modules), participate in a community of practice (learning community), and integrate their learning through Field Notes (learning journals). Our goals was that the woman would become more effective leaders in their organizations and move into greater spheres of influence. Of course, we outlined this in great depth and far more detail. 

And now, we've had two cohorts of women complete the program and the third co-hort is underway. The program is self-sufficient, being taught and organized by Cambodian women. On the surface it looks like a success. So why go there and do a full program evaulation?

Our first learning experience took place in an open air classroom in a very 'rustic' setting. I got used to the chickens running through the class. 

Our first learning experience took place in an open air classroom in a very 'rustic' setting. I got used to the chickens running through the class. 

We want to know what we did well, where we missed the mark, how we could improve the learning for the participants for ourselves. We want to make sure that nothing of value got lost along the way. We certainly don't want a program to continue unless we are confident that it is having the level of impact we originally imagined it would have. We want to be certain that this learning experience is making a difference in the lives of the women who continue to invest their time and energy in it.

Evaluation is often the missing link in the programs. We base the success of our endeavours on what people say (and people far too often are polite and say what will make you feel good). Or we base it on how we feel. We may rely on analytics to measure success (10000 people used our hashag!) Feeling good and liking something isn't a measurment of effectiveness. Defining your goals at the outset and then measuring your results based on the goals will tell you whether or not it was worth it.