Home Research Return on Investment The Essentials of Coaching Program Evaluation: Formative, Summative and Four Ds

The Essentials of Coaching Program Evaluation: Formative, Summative and Four Ds

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[Note: the following essay is based on a chapter I wrote for a book on organizational improvement quite a few years ago. This chapter never made it in the final version of the book. I have updated and focused in this revised version on the evaluation of coaching programs. The references may be a bit old, but the wisdom offered by these program evaluation experts is still of great benefit — and sadly is still being ignored with regard to many program evaluation initiatives.]

“The tragedies of science,” according to Thomas Huxley, “are the slayings of beautiful hypotheses by ugly facts.” The leaders and managers of coaching programs in many organizations face this prospect when confronted with the need to design or select ways of evaluating their efforts.

Program evaluation may indeed be threatening to their cherished notions about how human and organizational resources are developed and about how change and stabilization actually take place. More immediately, evaluation can be threatening to one’s beliefs regarding how a particular coaching project is impacting a particular department or the entire organization.

In this essay, I will review a series of appreciative concepts and tools that can reduce this threat by making the evaluative process clearer and more supportive. Effective program evaluation is a process that can be uncomfortable, for all growth and change involve some pain. Program evaluation, however, can be constructive. Furthermore, if it is appreciative, this evaluation process can meet the needs of both those who are serving and those who are being served by the coaching program.

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