Session Description: All evaluators deal with unintended events that foul their evaluation plans. Either the program does not work as planned, or the evaluation does not work as planned, or both. Usually we treat these situations as fires, i.e. we exercise our skills to meet the crisis. This workshop steps back from crisis mode and presents a systematic treatment of why these situations pop up, the continuum from “unforeseen” to “unforeseeable”, tactics that can be used along the continuum, and why caution is needed because anything we do to minimize the effect of surprise may be the cause of yet other difficulties. The intent of the workshop is twofold. First, to provide individual attendees with skills and knowledge they can employ in their own practice. Second, to further a community of interest among evaluators dedicated to developing systematic understanding of the phenomenon of unanticipated events that threaten the integrity of evaluation.
Jonathan A. Morell (Jonny) spends his professional life integrating practitioner and theoretical interests. As a practitioner he evaluates organizational change, R&D, and safety programs. His theoretical interests include unexpected behavior in programs and their evaluations, logic models, continuous process improvement methodologies in evaluation, complex systems, and the nature of practical action. Lately he has been playing with two pet curiosities, the relationship between agent-based modeling and evaluation, and the relationship between the visual forms of logic models and unexpected program behavior. He is the editor of Evaluation and Program Planning and is active in the American Evaluation Association, where he has played a role in establishing the Business and Industry, and the Systems TIGS. He is a recipient of AEA’s Marcus Ingle Distinguished Service Award. Jonny is a Senior Policy Analyst at the Vector Research Center, a division of TechTeam Government Solutions. His PhD in Psychology is from Northwestern University.