Our Guiding Philosophy


PEER is strongly committed to using a “utilization focused” consulting process in which the client is an active and engaged partner in the project and every stage is geared toward enabling the highest priority stakeholders to make decisions and take action. We believe that this method is more likely to lead to meaningful results and long-term value. 

It is our intention to help clients better articulate their vision and mission, align their programming and communication accordingly, and improve their programs based on evidence of programmatic results. We also help clients build their own internal capacity for organizational and program self-evaluation, planning, development, and implementation.




Open-Source Evaluation


At PEER, we believe in an "open-source" philosophy that leads to sharing of consulting methodologies, instruments, and results. We encourage our clients to participate in this practice, whenever appropriate, to build and nurture knowledge in their respective field. For this reason, an archive of products we have generated for our clients is available on the Products page of this site, and we have a section on the Library page for sharing files we have created or collected and that we frequently use.
"I was able to use your report to help me guide the planning for next year. Bravo on the utilization-focus!"
 
-- Polly Chandler, Project Director,
 Antioch New England Institute
10th Year Anniversary Self-Study


In 2013, as part of acknowledging our first decade as a business, the PEER Associates team undertook a systematic self-study, conducting interviews with a purposeful sample of thirty-one past and current clients. This process -- dubbed Client Outreach for Organizational Learning (COOL) -- gave PEER an opportunity to turn the utilization-focused evaluation process back on ourselves. Specifically, we investigated how we might use PEER’s ten year milestone to prompt internal reflection and business development, and also how we could communicate our mission more clearly to external audiences.


We learned a lot! Here are a few highlights:


  1. The process of working  with PEER seemed to trump specific products in terms of lasting utility of evaluations to client organizations. Interviewees referred to PEER as participatory, responsive, collaborative, communicative, adaptable, approachable, flexible, customized, non-commercial, pragmatic and practical, honest and direct, and trustworthy. Clients appreciated “feeling listened to,” having PEER staff to “bounce ideas off of,” being part of a “productive team” with PEER, and feeling comfortable talking with PEER about issues freely.

  2. Clients shared many specific suggestions for improvement that PEER has since attended to. Specific examples include: increasing our specificity in coaching clients in using evaluation findings after the evaluation period, and encouraging clients to set up monthly check in calls with PEER in order to prioritize ongoing, reliable communications and extract the most value from the process.

  3. We received confirmation that PEER’s integrated services model --an effort to more explicitly weave together evaluation, strategy, and program design in our work with clients--resonated strongly for our clients.

  4. Nearly every client interviewed felt that PEER had gone beyond the traditional evaluator role of conducting evaluations for organizations to also building their internal evaluation capacity. Interviewees identified two types of capacity building that they benefitted from: building capacity technically by offering them new processes or tools to put into use on their own with the project at hand or with other projects; and building capacity professionally by modeling and offering new ways of thinking which shift organizational culture more subtly.



Building Cultural Competence


We are committed to representing the voices of all stakeholders in our work, with particular attention to systematically reaching across cultural and hierarchical divides to ensure that we hear, include, and accurately represent every perspective. This approach is a natural outgrowth of our sustainability and social justice values.


Sustainability in the Workplace


PEER is committed to a green, or sustainable, business philosophy. PEER staff deeply embrace an ethic of sustainability in their personal lives, and extend that into their business decisions and practices. As one instance of tangible steps taken toward aligning our organizational practices with our convictions, we have conducted an environmental audit of business practices, focusing on the greenhouse gas impacts of our activities.
  • Our sustainability audit is available here.
  • Our green purchasing guidelines are available here.