While there is an “art” to DE, it also requires the same technical skills as other fields of evaluation. Methods skills are important, including having a mix of qualitative and quantitative techniques to deploy. Developmental evaluation isn’t just reflection and learning – it depends on having systematically collected and analyzed information.
It helps to have a large toolbox of methods to reduce the risk of using a familiar tool just because it is familiar, when that tool might not be right for the moment. For example, rather than seeing your method to answer a question as a key informant interview, remember that a key informant interview is just a data collection technique – how you design that protocol and analyze the data is the “method.” Below are a couple of methods to spur your thinking, very briefly described and sited to sources that can give you more insight. Please also visit www.BetterEvaluation.com to learn about other methods you might be able to use.
There will be times where your toolbox does not have the right method available. In the context of DE, you rarely have time to learn an entirely new method, so it is very beneficial to have a network of researchers available that you can tap into as needed.