CPD workshops for public sector managers

The Self-Evaluating Organisation and The Management of Change
Professor Saville Kushner, Professor of Public Evaluation

Philosophy and rationale

This is a series of evaluation workshops for public sector managers and team-leaders. These workshops are designed to support public sector managers in their organisational and professional development roles and in the management of change.

Where organisational evaluation has tended to focus on accountability, productivity and efficiency, these workshops will focus more on identifying quality and supporting democratic service development. Where conventional evaluation asks us to look back to justify what we currently do, these workshops will look forward to how things might be, and how to safely embrace risk.

The following themes are elements of the self-evaluating organisation:

  • that we can devolve leadership but retain management oversight – this partly involves a shift from supervisory management to facilitative management, and it relies on the free flow ‘up’ and ‘down’ of critical information;
  • that we can be concerned with the role of our public institutions in a democracy, but there is also a role for democracy in our public institutions;
  • no organisation has a single ‘theory of change’ or ‘programme theory’ – or even single ‘mission values’. All service organisations are theatres of many values and philosophies which can be revealed and mediated by internal evaluation. The key question for evaluation is, ‘what counts as quality of service?’;
  • a tolerance for risk and uncertainty – that we learn from failures and that there is a risk of suffering from ‘chronic success’;
  • that all public services are collaborations with stakeholders and users, but the principle of ‘collaboration’ is too often weakened by lack of mutual insight and understanding, and by unresolved differences over what counts as quality service and useful information;
  • that economic and political pressures are not determining – they are the conditions under which we work;
  • evaluation should be a practice that all practitioners engage in and do, rather than an intrusive administrative function that practitioners receive.
  • Professional training and development based on critical evaluation is the source of cultural change and managers should be closely engaged with training systems and curricula.


We invite senior and middle-management and team leaders, however a participating service defines these. As a source for cross-sector learning, we are looking for participation across a range of services including education, health, public health, criminal justice, social services, emergency services, community services and the performing arts.

All those joining this series will be expected to attend throughout – special circumstances allowing. We will invite no more than 15 participants, including more than one from any sector.

Each participant will be expected to conduct ‘light-and-brief’ investigation in their own organisation, and one half-day to visit a cousin organisation and shadow another participant for cross-organisational learning.

Workshop sessions

There will be five sessions, each lasting three hours with a 30-minute break. They will take place at three week intervals between 5pm and 8pm. All sessions will be interactive and will run in workshop style. All sessions will be comprehensively served with continuous refreshments.

Session 1 Meet and explore each other’s issues and dilemmas
Session 2 Separating organisational evaluation from accountability to make it work for managers, practitioners and the community
Session 3 Evaluation for professional autonomy and cultural change
Session 4 Visiting and investigating each other’s organisation and what we learn from each other across service sectors
Session 5 Modelling an evaluation culture: principles for developing a practical, feasible and constructive internal evaluation process.

Programme Lead

Professor Saville Kushner

Professor Saville Kushner is an international theorist and practitioner of programme evaluation. He has conducted and directed around 50 commissioned evaluative enquiries in Britain and overseas in fields as diverse as schooling, health services, criminal justice, social service and the performing arts. He served as a Home Office Adviser on professional training and was twice (1980s/2000s) involved in the redesign and development of national police training.

He has been engaged in both the evaluation and the practice of professional training including with nurses, police officers, teachers, social workers and with international development organisations, including the United Nations, NZ AID and AUSAID.

Between 2005 and 2007 he served as a UN Regional Evaluation Officer (Latin America/Caribbean) and in 2015/16 was Chair of the Research and Evaluation Board of the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He has also served as President of the UK Evaluation Society. Saville has published widely on evaluation and professional practice, including five books and numerous journal articles. He will be joined in these workshops by occasional expert contributors.