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Friday, September 21 • 1:30pm - 2:30pm
'Drive out fear': creating space for evaluative thinking and speculation for practitioners and organisations

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Carolyn Page (The Clear English Company), Susan Garner (Public Sector Policy Solutions (PSPS)), Rob Richards (Public Sector Policy Solutions (PSPS))

'Drive out fear': creating space for evaluative thinking and speculation for practitioners and organisations

At a time when government and non-for-profit organisations are being asked to improve their practices in describing performance and applying the lessons from evaluation, it is important to take a tough look at some of the impediments. In an era of increased political exposure for senior managers, there is considerable risk in airing a policy or implementation failure — even though the 'take away' learning may be the most positive thing to emerge from it. In an Academic Symposium on 'Improving Performance Information — Developing an Entity Performance Story' hosted by the Department of Finance in 2016, Professor Brian Head, of the Institute of Social Science Research at the University of Queensland, noted the strength of institutional and cultural barriers to talking about negative outcomes, going so far as to suggest that there is almost no 'space' for this in government practice: 'We need to have confidential spaces in which we can have these discussions — a 'cone of silence'. We should make it a place we can really have these discussions.' 

At the team and individual level, the common divide between 'policy' and 'program' expertise can also result in forms of organisational silence that rob policy debate of essential insights. For these practitioners, too, there may be no safe 'space' to share insights and to speculate about theory and practice, to spot risks, or debate alternative approaches to our pressing policy challenges. 

From their private practice in policy analysis, evaluation, evidence, and organisational change management—and from their three-year collaboration as public policy and evaluation trainers—the presenters will provide suggestions about 'what works', focussing on the principles of organisational and individual learning. 


Marion Norton

Manager Research and Evaluation, Qld DJAG

avatar for Susan Garner

Susan Garner

Director, Garner Willisson
I see myself as an 'accidental' evaluator having come from a career in science and public policy. I managed my first evaluation project as a policy analyst in the health portfolio. With post graduate qualifications in public policy and public health I found a natural affinity to evaluative... Read More →
avatar for Carolyn Page

Carolyn Page

Director, The Clear English Company
Carolyn Page built policy and evaluation units in three government agencies and is now an independent public policy analyst and trainer. In 2001 she developed the analytic tool 'Policy Logic' to help agencies to evaluate programs and policies in the context of government priorities... Read More →

Friday September 21, 2018 1:30pm - 2:30pm AEST
Chancellor 4