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  • Writer's pictureEquitable Evaluation Initiative

EEF Expansion: Elements of the EEF—Sticking Points

Sticking Points are obstacles or barriers to be moved through, over, under, or around. They can provide support in traversing the Orthodoxies named in the Equitable Evaluation Framework™.

A graphic representation of the EEF. The Principles are shown as three guideposts in the foreground with bright red circles at the top, skinny posts to the ground, and roots connecting each of them underground. The Orthodoxies are ever-present as greyish purple vines. The Mindsets are a series of golden icons, representing shifts. The Tensions are represented with a tangled toggle in dark grey, showing multiple ideas upheld. The Sticking Points are represented as dark purple squiggles, showing the potential to get stuck.

Sticking Points are opportunities to remove obstacles and/or perceived barriers to progress. Often, these arise when there is pushback, a hiccup, or slowing down, which may be interpreted as a lack of commitment, resistance to change, or a shift to other priorities. This point of inflection can serve as a moment to pause and explore. The Sticking Points offer ways to move through, over, under, or around iterative and generative conversation.


A drawing of a door with Sticking Points, represented as dark purple squiggles, coming through it.

Inviting Vulnerability and Risk

This considers how you show up and are open to possible implications and comfort with change.

  • What happens when how you’re seen or perceived changes (e.g., as an expert knowing all the answers and that is no longer the case)?

  • What might that change your sense of identity and competence?

  • How comfortable are you in trying something new? Not being perfect?

  • How might you demonstrate more humility and transparency?

Willing to Stay in Conversation

Dialogue requires a relationship with trust, proximity, history, and context as key factors.

  • What is the nature of your evaluative work? Do you have a relationship where you can be different, say things, and try things you have not before?

  • What is your understanding of the role of race and racism (and all the “isms”) in evaluative practice?

  • How do you fare with openness?

  • What is your comfort with discomfort? How might you navigate?

Defining Equity (as means and ends)

Clarity and a shared understanding with others on what you mean and how equity is defined.

  • How are you defining equity and getting on the same page with others? Does this consider equity as both a means (processes) and ends?

  • How might you invite and engage in conversations about disparities and institutional and structural barriers?

  • How might you shift from single axis to intersectional? How might you talk about race, gender, ability, sexual orientation—all the identities—and how they shape how you are in the world and how that, in turn, shapes how you see the world?

  • How might this be the same or different from talking about justice, liberation, equality, or anti-racism?

Reframing Current Asymmetrical Evaluation Discourse

This moves toward being more balanced and nuanced and recognizes power and related dynamics at play.

  • What are the ways you can talk about evaluative work so that it is in closer relationship to how program and strategy unfolds? How does it respond?

  • How might you explore and address power and how it manifests in the processes, protocols, and practices of evaluation?

  • How might a relational approach allow for long term mutual benefit and reciprocity?

  • How might a shift in who is acknowledged and invited as having expertise, including voices of those closest/most affected, enhance validity and rigor and embrace complexity across all phases of evaluative work?

Staying in Practice Over Time

Resists defaults and recognizes shifts (including small ones) as indications of progress and possibility.

  • How might you acknowledge desire for or choice of default practices (that are reactive/misaligned with your values) that are no longer the ways in which you work?

  • How might you continue to be purposeful in your practices over time in ways that support bringing others alongside?

  • What might shift as you embrace and engage in practices that impart equity as both means and ends? How might you explore and align your processes along the way?

  • When do you recognize and acknowledge small changes and shifts as progress (to build on and help stay in practice)? How might you invite possibility?

  • How might you dedicate time between your internal reaction and your external response/action? What practices are required/necessary as a staff/organization? What practices do you want to be in with your partners/community? How do you hope your partners/community experience you?

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