Editorial: '...and better will do'
by Kevin Sims
...and better will do
What is it about the word ‘evaluation’ that saps energy from even the most hardy of people? Grown men weep and women faint at the suggestion their work will be ‘evaluated’, so much so that you begin to wonder if they were expecting extermination rather than evaluation.
I’ll admit that a whole issue about the Global Community Development Evaluation took some selling to me. But as I heard the stories and bought into the vision behind the programme I began to see the possibilities.
Evaluation – seen by many as a modern managerial tool – has been around pretty much for ever. Jesus himself went down this road when he said, ‘Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognise them’ (Matthew 11:19-20 New International Version). He was, of course, using the analogy of the fruit tree to describe people who ‘talk the talk’ without ‘walking the walk’ but it’s easy to apply the idea in other situations.
William Booth, Founder of The Salvation Army, was famously hard to please. When presented with an idea or evidence of good work he is said to have commented, ‘That and better will do!’
I’m guessing his response wasn’t always the one that was hoped for!
In the case of the global evaluation featured through this issue of All the World, ‘That and better will do,’ would make a good summary. The intention of the programme was not to say, ‘Things are terrible and here is the proof,’ but rather to suggest, ‘This is good – but could it be even better?’
It’s a question we should all be asking ourselves, even if not quite so formally. Before every issue of All the World I sit down with my designer, Berni Georges, and we look at what we did in the last issue and how we could improve on it.
Did the headlines work? Were the pictures used to their best advantage? Did we get across the most important points of the articles? Having answered those questions we vow to make the next issue even better.
Such an evaluation isn’t saying what has gone before is bad – it’s simply looking at how to make something good (I hope!) even better.
My four-year-old son Noah gets frustrated when he can’t do something perfectly at the first time of asking. My suggestion to him – ‘Try again. If you do your best and keep trying you’ll get better and better’ – is advice I’d do well to take myself in my work life, my relationships and my continued struggle to live out my Christian faith.
Sometimes I get the feeling God himself is telling me: ‘That and better will do.’ While he is, I’ll just keep trying my best to be as fruitful as possible.
Kevin Sims is the editor of All the World