We go into evaluative processes every day and at every time, for instance when we check the weather and wonder whether to take an umbrella or not. Whenever moving in a city and we go from point A to point B, we evaluate which is the best route to reach our destination based on the information we have. But we also do evaluation when we want to understand why a person made one decision instead of another (motivation, value). Likewise, we address an evaluation when we give an opinion of a product we bought balancing the price we paid and the satisfaction we think we got (efficacy). That is to say, we do evaluation when a decision has to be made, when reflecting about people’s actions and when giving a value judgment. These informal evaluations may be made based on vague information and don’t need the support of accurate information which explains the rational behind. However, formal evaluations need to be backed consistently by reliable evidence in order to build logical conclusions. That is why we use systematic methodologies and procedures. Other difference is that in informal evaluations we background the process while in formal ones we make the process explicit. In Leapfrog we want to foreground the evaluation process for people, for communities and for the public sector in order to learn collectively how we can make it better.
To put simply, evaluation is a social and applied investigation that has a strategic plan and focuses on the value, worth and merit of a particular community initiative. To do it so, it needs to gather reliable and relevant information, which is analysed to develop conclusions.
These days we are seeing an increasing number of people asking for more transparent policies. There is a demand to rise by public sector, non-profit organisations and communities themselves to investigate more collaborative ways of working together, to understand each other. These demands focus our interest in investigating more effective evaluation processes along with more participative and engaged forms of work between public sector and communities. What we are trying to do in Leapfrog is to integrate evaluation in our co-design processes. At the same time, we are trying to do it in a more creative way in which all the stakeholders that are involved in a community development project can shape the evaluation process. We want to bridge relationships amongst public sector and communities based on trust and in collaboration. These social relationships are central for us because a participatory evaluation needs to establish feedback loops between all the components of the project in order to really understand all the necessities for both sides. Are these relationships what set the basis to gather people together at first place and allow negotiating the intended outcomes.