During the recent African Evaluation Association Conference, Zenda Offir introduced the concept of Grand Challenge. A Grand Challenge is an “ambitious but achievable goal that captures the imagination of the public and use science, technology and innovation to solve important national or global problems”.
The notion of Grand Challenge was first used in mathematics to label these hard problems that resisted the best scientists. Applied to the social universe and to evaluation, Zenda indicated that Grand Challenges would:
- Address a major problem with global significance;
- Likely be about a complex problem;
- Involve unconventional ideas;
- Connect several issues;
- Have the potential to remove critical barriers;
- Be susceptible to resolution even though it resisted solution.
How does that apply to evaluation? Well, evaluation could be part of the array of solutions to Grand Challenges but evaluation also has its own Grand Challenges. To me, one Grand Challenge for evaluation is to move evaluators from a concern centered on conducting technically correct work (what I call the evaluator-as-a-technician posture) to an ambition to contribute to social progress and to social good for all, particularly those groups that are traditionally underprivileged or fragile (evaluator-as-agent-of-change position).
I would like to know what the Grand Challenges for evaluation are according to you and in your own evaluation world. You can post your views in the comments section at the bottom of this page for all to see or you can write me directly at here. I look forward to your views and analyses!
Benoît Gauthier, CE