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Date and time: Wednesday 7th August 2019 12:30 - 1.30pm
Topic: Strategic, tactical and operational: Extending the evaluators’ toolkit
Presenter: Dr Lyn Alderman, The Evaluators’ Collective
Venue: Community room at the Brisbane Square Library, 266 George St, Brisbane (Ground floor)
Register online by: 5th August 2019

This is a free seminar organised by the QLD Regional Network Committee of the AES. Our monthly seminar series provides an opportunity for you to meet with AES members and others in Queensland and to share and learn from the experiences of fellow evaluators. Members are encouraged to bring along colleagues with an interest in the topic even if they are not yet members of the AES. Please forward onto your networks.

Seminar overview

Leaders are expected to be strategic and often find themselves bogged down in the operational or tactical aspects of our work. What is the difference between strategic, tactical and operational? Why does it matter? And importantly, what does this mean for evaluators?

When an organisation, department or team are considering organisational change, we often find ourselves very comfortable in making changes to the ‘low hanging fruit’ as they call it in higher education. These are the processes and practices that are within our control, the operational aspect of our work. We are comfortable with this aspect of our work and it is where there can be some very quick changes that improve the workflow for staff or how clients interact with our services.

A higher order activity is tactical. This is where evaluators and program evaluation are positioned in the tactical aspect of our work. It includes evaluation of the business streams that we deliver, the programs, projects, grants, and services offered to clients with a strong alignment to the organisation’s mission, purpose and objects (for non-profits). You will be familiar with our evaluation tools to assist in program evaluation such as program logic, theory of change, monitoring and evaluation plans.

The highest order activity is strategic. This is where leaders (executive and managers) determine the direction of the organisation, question whether the objects still relevant, scan for external drivers for change. For those in government, this may include responding to Royal Commissions, new legislative direction, national plans, and policy changes at the commonwealth or state levels. It is a challenge to step outside the operational and tactical aspects of our work to focus on being strategic.

In my experience, evaluators are being drawn into the strategic aspects of organisations, departments and teams. I believe it is a compliment to the discipline of evaluation, that evaluators and our tools of trade are highly desirable and of interest to strategic leaders. However, this new space requires strategic tools, something different from our usual evaluators’ toolkit. Evaluators may need to scan across to other disciplines to extend their evaluation toolkit.

This presentation will unpack the differences between strategic, tactical and operational and recommend well-known decision-making tools that can assist leaders to be more strategic when objectively approaching change. It will also describe tools to assist with each aspect.

Presenters background

Dr Lyn Alderman is the Principal and Founder of The Evaluators’ Collective. Lyn is passionate about evaluation as a discipline with deep work experience and research into strategy, evaluation theory and practice and the effectiveness of decision-making tools. Through The Evaluators’ Collective, Lyn offers evaluation consultancy services, specialist workshops, and mentoring program. Of particular interest to evaluators, is The Evaluators’ Collection a repository of evaluation products available for public use. Lyn’s previous role as the Chief Evaluator for the Commonwealth Department of Social Services brought a breadth of experience in commissioning $25 million in external evaluations, managing $17 million in evaluation contracts and working across all Social Services programs and other client agencies. This experience is backed up with ten years as the lead internal evaluator for Queensland University of Technology. Lyn and her team received awards for leadership and best practice institutional analytics. In her educational background, Lyn holds a Doctor of Philosophy in evaluation of higher education government policy, Masters of Education researching curriculum and a Bachelor of Education (Adult Education).


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