ODI shares 10 things to know about evaluation, number 5 is on failures.

According to their report, everything is awesome...Yeah, that worries me too.

Today’s illustration was inspired by an infographic created by the Overseas Development Institute.

5. ‘Failures” are important.

Evaluation is sometimes driven by desire to show that a project was successful or worthwhile. Yet evaluations will almost always show mixed results. Understanding and sharing what doesn’t work is just as important as what does.


  1. Simon Hearn on June 25, 2015 at 4:57 am

    Thanks for cartooning this message, Chris. Something we didn’t have space to talk about in the infographic was the inadequacy of the ‘success’ and ‘failure’ language that we, as a field, often use – and despite our efforts we couldn’t avoid them in the infographic either. Failure sounds so absolute, so permanent and all encompassing when it might just mean we were trying something really hard and the odds were stacked against us, but hey we know how to improve for next time.
    I discuss this in a blog I wrote to accompany the infographic – to give the inside view on how difficult it was to write. See here: http://betterevaluation.org/blog/communicating_evaluation_to_non_evaluators

    • Chris Lysy on June 25, 2015 at 6:27 am

      Thanks for the added context Simon! It gives me an idea for another cartoon more in line with your thinking.

  2. Reiko Kakuyama-Villaber on June 26, 2015 at 5:01 pm

    When I was in Program Evaluation class almost 5 years ago, my professor said, “Evaluation is not just about whether the program is good or bad, but exploring what makes it good or bad.” It really opened up my eyes. I believe this is the fundamental idea of evaluation being a tool that leads to program improvement.

    I love your illustration and the entire blog! I don’t work in an evaluation team (like I used to) currently and I need this ‘space’ where I can stay updated on all the work and ideas people create/develop in this field!

    • Chris Lysy on July 12, 2015 at 10:02 am

      Thanks Reiko! Sorry for the late reply!