Why Conference?

Among the things I’m thankful for (note to my American readers, we celebrate Thanksgiving a bit earlier than you!) is the opportunity to attend the American Evaluation Association’s conference this year. As Chris Lysy pointed out in one his evaluation comics, the reasons for bringing upwards of a thousand people together is constantly evolving, especially since we can easily share information and insights online with a much larger audience on a much smaller budget. So, aside from having the chance to see new locales – this will be my first trip to Denver – what are my reasons for going?

New Knowledge and Insights

This year, I’m really looking forward to attending workshops and sessions on systems thinking – as one of the conference themes, I anticipate seeing lots of discussion in this area! Could I access resources and sources of knowledge in this area on my own? Of course, but the conference setting is a great opportunity to hear from multiple experts in the field and connect with others who are likewise developing their skills and knowledge.

Another benefit of these conferences, particularly “big-tent” events like AEA, is the encountering of approaches or ideas that I may not have consciously sought out on my own. Simply put, Diversity of Ideas + Serendipity = Great Insights!

Opportunity to Share

A fellow developmental evaluator, Chi Yan Lam, and I will be facilitating a conversation on the topic, focusing specifically on how consultants can use this approach. As a “Birds of a Feather” gathering, the format is very informal with no set presentation, but I hope that our session will spark some thoughts and encourage others who are interested in developmental evaluation to learn more about it!


You may have noticed a recurring theme in my first two points above: it’s all about the people! The conference attracts people from around the world, including a good-sized Canadian contingent, and the variety of fields, careers, and experiences is amazing. Even for an introvert like me, I’m really looking forward to meeting friends and colleagues, old and new.

As with previous conferences, I aim to blog regularly and live-tweet when possible during sessions. Keep watch on this blog and my Twitter feed, and feel free to join those online conversations!

The remainder of this week, I will not be responding to phone calls. I will have email access, but may not be able to reply as promptly as normal.