The previous sections address the “what” (definition), “why” (reasons), and “how” (mechanisms) of the professionalization journey. It is time to think about the road or set of roads that is likely to bring the national evaluation professionalization picture from the current to the sought (even ideal) state.
Professionalizing means changing – from informal to structured, from unorganized to organized, from undefined to explicit – and can therefore be cast within a change management framework. Fortunately, there is a lot of literature and documentation on change management. From it comes the following list of steps that should be considered:
It is particularly crucial that the VOPE chooses a strategy that is commensurate to its capacity to implement it. There is no point in developing a formidable plan if resources (of all types) are not available. That said, developing an open, inclusive, and ambitious (but realistic) plan is also a way to help adjoining partners in the change and professionalization strategy.
Don’t forget that key elements of success in change management are transparency and communication. Secrecy and underhandedness are recipes for disaster in the short or medium term. With transparency and communication, the dynamics of the situation become rapidly clear and can be readily addressed. Another key is the involvement of all parties to a change and the identification of benefits for all that are in excess of the costs associated with any change.
So, questions to you, VOPE leaders: have you conducted an assessment of the national context? Do you know who the key stakeholders are and what their positions are vis à vis professionalization of evaluation practice? Have you had a dialogue with your membership on the risks and opportunities of professionalization? Does your VOPE (and indeed your national ecosystem) possess the resources to support a professional change?