What if the news is bad?

As an evaluator, I’m often faced with the following question.

“I want to be able to demonstrate my results because I think we’re doing great things, but…what if the news is bad?”

Let’s imagine, for instance, that children in elementary school don’t receive grades for reading. When your daughter, who is a bright, generous, fun-loving child, begins her first day of middle school, you receive a phone call from the principal’s office. “Mrs. Smith, we’ve discovered that your child is unable to read.”

Let’s analyze that scenario for the moment with a few questions:

  1. Is this information that you feel is important for you to have?
  2. Would you rather be kept in the dark?
  3. What do you do next?

Now, imagine that the principal never called. How do you feel about that?
Discovering information about your programs or services that feels negative or problematic is often seen as a threat. However, I urge you to examine that idea and consider what you’re really faced with: an opportunity.

Do you really want to wait until a problem takes root, jeopardizing your program’s future and the outcomes of your clients, before you begin to analyze what needs to be improved?

Or do you want to know now?

Let me be clear. Results aren’t bad. Knowledge isn’t bad.

Not taking action when you have a problem…now that’s dangerous.