Category Archives: Program Evaluation

Planning Programming Budgeting System (PPBS)

Guest Post by Ron Sommer

Introduction: reading my post about system thinking and program evaluation, Ron mentioned a close practice that incorporate both budget and planning. I am glad he agreed to write a guest post about the topic, and hope you will find it fascinating too.

Moreover, this is the first blog post for 2018!  and opening the year with such a great topic is a good reason to celebrate (:

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In ancient days, meaning the 1960’s, Planning, Programming, Budgeting Systems (PPBS) was considered an innovation in budgeting. PPBS was first introduced in the Defense Department in the USA in 1961 by Robert McNamara, and in all departments in 1965 until 1975. Though it failed to be widely adopted in government, PPBS is effective is less complex organizations such as NGO’s.

PPBS is an integrated management system that places emphasis on the use of analysis for program decision making. The purpose of PPBS is to provide management with a better analytical basis for making program decisions, and for putting such decisions into operation through an integration of the planning, programming and budget functions. Program decision making is a fundamental function of management. It involves making basic choices as to the direction of an organization’s effort and allocating resources accordingly. This function consists first of defining the objectives of the organization, then deciding on the measures that will be taken in pursuit of those goals, and finally putting the selected courses of action into effect.

 

Planning Programming Budgeting System (PPBS)
Planning Programming Budgeting System (PPBS)

 

An organization can be viewed in a simplified way as carrying out its functions through five basic and sequential phases: (1) planning, (2) programming, (3) budgeting, (4) operations, and (5) evaluation.

  1. Specification of Objectives – The objectives of the programs are to be specified in consistence with the long-term goals in quantitative terms as far as possible.
  2. Systemic Analysis – The possible alternative projects to achieve the program objectives are analyzed in a systematic way with the use of cost-benefit and cost-effectiveness analysis.
  3. Functional Classification – The budget is classified on a functional basis like functions, programs, projects and activities.
  4. Organization – Budget formulation addresses the organizational structure, managerial and administrative procedures of the programs/projects/activities.
  5. Evaluation – The mechanism for evaluation of performance on the basis of financial and physical performances to monitor, and take corrective actions, if necessary.

Each of these phases consists of a distinct but related function in the overall conduct of the organization’s affairs.

  1. Planning is an analytical activity carried out to aid in the selection of the organizations objectives and then to examine courses of action that could be taken in the pursuit of the objectives. Planning, in effect, poses the question of whether some particular course of action would contribute more to the attainment of the organization’s goal than its various alternatives.
  2. Programming is the function that converts plans into a specific action schedule for the organization. Programming consists of developing detailed resource requirements and the actions needed to implement plans.
  3. Budgeting is the activity concerned with the preparation and justification of the organization’s annual budget. The function of budgeting is to secure sufficient funds to put the program into operation.
  4. Operations consists of the actual carrying out of the organization’s programs. Preparing for operations is the object of all the other phases.
  5. Evaluation is the function that evaluates the worth of operating programs. Through program evaluation the worth of programs in attaining goals is measured and appraised. The result of evaluations is used to modify current operations, if indicated, or in planning future programs.

PPBS provides an opportunity for identifying the program alternatives which offer the biggest pay-off in achieving communal objections, or require lower costs, and these can be singled out for priority attention by planning groups.

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DIY: The Crafting Job of Program Evaluation

Professionals involved in program evaluation projects occasionally find that their understanding of how the work will be used and adapted by the organization does not necessarily parallel their clients’ perception of the project.
The DIY Method, a unique tool I developed, proves to make a vast difference in both collaborative work and the process of organizational performance, changes of policy, and program evaluation capabilities. The DIY Method begins at building capacity. We aim to include all managers and stakeholders in the process of program evaluation to better find common ground and agree on the initial need for the evaluations. Secondly, we seek to clarify the research question and discover the gaps in information about the program or initiative. It is vital to recognize what is unknown and requires further investigation. Thirdly, assuming that our research question is well defined, we then focus on constructing research tools for program managers or officers to use for data collection. These tools contain basic statistics and cross-tabulations to assist in day-to-day management. They can either be simple Excel based software, or built into the CRM or preexisting organizational database. It is decided by the clients which method works best and allows for smooth and beneficial program evaluation. This stage may take some time as there is a need to adjust, apply, and modify the tools to contribute with managerial decisions and facilitate formative program evaluation. Our professionals are there to help create a beneficial environment and assist with program evaluation tool implementation.

 

Program Evaluation
Program Evaluation

When all is working and in place, our consultants analyze the data collected for the quarter or year, and articulate a research report to summarize the results, data, and trends. A significant portion of our time is dedicated to writing practical recommendations, supplying a beneficial use for evaluations, and assisting with continuous work to facilitate a smart and successful atmosphere for decision making and operations.

 

If this method of work interests you and you are curious to learn more, contact me today for a FREE initial consultation!

 

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Regression to the Mean and its Implications on Program Evaluation

Background and Problem Identification

Most of the social / educational program are evaluated this way or another, and on this post I would like to focus on repeated measures of the same group of participants or individuals, as opposed to different groups comparisons or tests.

In many occasions we want to learn what is the impact of an intervention on attitudes, perceptions, and behavior; and by this we want to isolate the impact of the specific intervention, hence the program, and see how it changed the  attitudes, perceptions,  behavior, or a specific situation; in order to infer whether the intervention was effective or not.

Many of us will conduct t-test or repeated measures test. Another common way to  investigate those questions is using a linear regression model; and by this try to predict the change on our dependent variable by a series of controlled variables. However, here comes the “catch” –

Regression to the mean (RTM) is a statistical phenomenon that can make natural variation in repeated data look like real change. It happens when unusually large or small measurements tend to be followed by measurements that are closer to the mean.”
( Barnett et al., 2005)

The problem (RTM) may occur whether we measure an individual or a group, due to the random error (within-subject variance and between-subject variance).

A similar problem is identified as “a standard error of measurement (SEM), which refers to the standard deviation of an individual’s observed scores from repeated administrations of a test (or parallel forms of a test) under identical conditions”
(Koizumi et al., 2015)

The problem: variations in data sometimes DO NOT reflect a real change, but a correction of a previous random error.

 

In other words, we jump too fast to define a correlation as a causation, without checking carefully it really is!

Indeed, research conducted to investigate these measurement errors in social implications shows that many changes are accounted for RTM or SEM, and do not reflect a real change (Marsden amd Torgerson, 2012; Koizumi et al., 2015).

Ready to Think Regression to the Mean

Solutions and Food for Thoughts:

Be careful when you aim to predict something. Do not assume a vacuum. On the contrary, plan the study cautiously and take into account alternative explanations, and different routes for interpretation. In fact, there is some good advise on how to reduce the chance your study’s results will be affected by natural errors such as RTM.

Research Design:

  • assign participant randomly for all groups
  • make sure groups are the same size
  • always include a control group
  • control for alternative variables
  • use tools with high reliability
  • control for background variables and context

Data Collection and Analysis:

  • conduct more than one pretest
  • collect two or more baseline data
  • control for baseline average / st. dev. by adding the group mean to the equation (either on regression or Ancova)

(Koizumi et al., 2015; Bonate, 2000; Marsden and Torgerson, 2012)

 

Implications on Program Evaluation

Many social and education program seek to change an attitude or perception, and assist participants in gaining knowledge of certain areas (such as financial literacy or second language).

Evaluation for these program usually focuses on perception measurement using a  before-after design. Most of the time, RTS is not taken into account, and therefore interpretation of  program impact may be wrong. Needless to say, designs without a “before” measurement worth NOTHING in terms of explaining program impact or change. In addition, there is a second aspect to emphasize which is the presence of a control group. Very often it is very difficult to compose a group of participants just for the sake of evaluation; however you should take into account that if you do not do it, you will never be able to correctly assess neither a baseline nor a change in your group of study.

In short: be cautious, plan and conduct evaluation carefully, when bearing in mind that a change in attitudes, perception, behaviour or knowledge, can be explained by a variety of explanations, that may be slightly different than the intervention you evaluate.

 

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Subscribe if you liked (:

…and feel free to contact me regarding program evaluation consulting projects

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References:

Barnett, A.G., Van der Pols, L., Dobson, A. (2005). Regression to the mean: what it is and how to deal with it. Int. J. Epidemiol. , 34 (1):215-220.

Bonate, P. L. (2000). Analysis of pretest–posttest designs. Boca Raton, FL.

Guisasola, J., Solbes, J., José-Ignacio, B., Maite, M., Antonio, M. (2009). Students’ Understanding of the Special Theory of Relativity and Design for a Guided Visit to a Science Museum. In: International Journal of Science Education 31(15), 2085-2104

Koizumi, R., In’nami, Y., Azuma, J., Asano, K., Agawa, T., Eberl, D. (2015). Assessing L2 proficiency growth: Considering regression to the mean and the standard error of difference. Shiken, 19(1).

Marsden, E., Torgerson, C. J. (2012). Single group, pre- and post-test research designs: Some methodological concerns. Oxford Review of Education, 38, 583–616.

 

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4 Questions to Answer Yourself Before You Measure Outcomes

Hello friends, I am now writing for over 6 months, and every time I publish something I feel that I somehow helped the world (: So thank you for reading my comments.

Today I’d like to focus on a very sensitive issue – outcomes measurement. Yeah! you need to measure. If you make money out of your activity – you may want to know what was the impact in order to maintain and retain clients; If you do nonprofit you may want to know what was the impact of your services, and how you can grow.

I will make my points simple and clear:

1. Feelings are not true. They are misleading. Never trust your senses or impressions. Measurement does not work this way, and this is why you want to employ it. Facts are usually different than what we tend to think… a smart women quoted me a very strong message 10 years ago:”without data you are just another person with an opinion”. This is still so true.

2. Your boss/es are not interested in statistics and data, they just want the work to be impactful. Really?! how are you going to know it? Write down your goals, translate into objectives, and have these objectives measured. Be the one who brings rational and data to the table, be the one to help the organization grow.

Nonprofits consulting - ready to think

3. You must have some sort of education with regard to measurement and evaluation. If you do not have, you are having very high possibilities to be mistaken. The most problematic trajectories are: questionnaires design and data analysis. I have seen thousands of questionnaires in my life so far, almost each one of them contained a critical mistake, which turns the whole business to be useless. So, bear in mind, neither your MBA nor MSW qualified you to write questionnaires and interpret data. Use professional advice.

4. What are you planning to do with the data? make sure there is a good reason to collect data and evaluate. Once you have the data, make the best out of it. Translate it into strategic steps and apply it. Then, recheck your performance and adjust accordingly.

Thank you for thinking and reading! On the next post I will share an example for a measurable impact questionnaire I created, for free use. Please stay tuned and subscribe (:

 

 

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Not-For-Profit BUT Yes-For-What: Reviewing The Solution Continues… (part 2)

Ahhmmm…. got to tell you I am excited.
In the past weeks, I have had the opportunity to meet many professionals virtually, especially thanks to our lovely brother LinkedIn. I found myself in a process of learning, that I missed so much! well, enough with the introductions, let’s start thinking (-:

Just a short summary to get you to the point I am in now, in case that you did not read (you missed!) or do not remember (that’s fine (: )…
My first post on this issue dealt with the hard question – what are nonprofits for…and the essential need to connect doing to impact.  My second post in this regard dealt with impact measurement, and my suggestion for three elements in metrics: Usefulness, Friendliness, and standardization.
I have got lots of feedback, and it led me to a cross-way:
One group of people maintained the operational aspect, as the main weakness. The other group agreed on the need of impact measurement, however everyone is kinda not sure what is exactly the thing needed to complete the mission.

ready to think - management consulting

The Operations Aspect

I would like to take it one step ahead, and correct me if I am wrong, the operations-minded people are usually dealing with something we can touch, or at least can see impact simply just by looking what the organization does – water, agriculture, farms, vaccines, you name it. The impact measurement in this type of organizations is a short and sweet ROI analysis. Efficiency, effectiveness, benchmark, and performance measurement are relatively easy to conduct, as well as goals and objectives setting.
Another important suggestion was to collaborate and cooperate, and even amalgamate organizations that do the same/similar work. I agree with this way of thinking but would like to ask you managers – will you work on your ego and let another organization to work with you or instead of you? Think about it. If it works – there may be great, extremely successful models of business supply chain management, which employ this attitude – more for less – by a chain of organizations. Phrase it like this:
The bottom-line is the VALUE profit. As long as there are organizations which may do the same, or even better than your organization – the real impact will be achieved by working together, and collaborate. It also saves you money, and reduces costs!
I know it is the hard part of managers’ ego, but probably one of the realistic ways to save the sector alive in terms of impact.
In short, the question to ask yourself is this – What is your organization’s unique selling proposition? What is your competitive advantage on others? What is the special value your organization creates? You supposed to have a very good answer to this question.
An additional note in this regard, is Collective Impact. Someone referred me to the collective impact website. I researched it, and browsed the web, and I must compliment them for doing the first operations step – creating coalitions and collaborations in order to increase the impact. However, this is only the first necessary step. The sector is getting shrunk, and will continue this trend, therefore there is a vital need to amalgamate or eliminate ineffective programs, not just collaborate.

The Social Value Impact Aspect

The problem of impact comes to life again when we deal with the social hot potato, and you know what?! I am dealing with it!
There is certainly a broad agreement on the need, although I must admit that I am still shocked to see huge foundations refuse to measure themselves (ego and power issues??)… But let’s put it aside. Just another small reference – social enterprises are a relatively small part of the nonprofit sector. I will never call them the “forth sector”, because they are not. I will never agree that they act differently than the third sector, they are value-driven, and this is the crucial aspect. They DO NOT care about money more than value, and DO NOT care about profit and value the same way. Therefore they DO NOT have double bottom-line, but one, and the last is very similar to the pure nonprofits. I can count few real social enterprises, but they will be again the ones we can touch – bakery, restaurant, agriculture, cafe, and the like.
Show me one social services enterprise… it ain’t exist, because it is impossible, and here comes the social impact measurement to  help us.
Nonprofits consulting - ready to think

So, based on my criteria – usefulness, friendliness, and standardization, and since I got no criticism on that (-: , let’s start.

I did not define Standardization last time, so here it is: in my opinion is needs to be simple. The metrics should include up to 4 core elements, which will be relevant across the sector. By this, there will be an option to compare between one organization to another. There is an option to add as many as indicators you like and want, and it won’t harm the metrics, but will give your organization the specific information you are looking for.

So, this is my review, happened somehow to be very small and narrowed…
I rank tools in 1-3 scale. 1=low, 2=medium, 3=high. Hence, the highest total score is 9.
I try to keep it as simple as possible, so do not rank 1-10 or something like that.

An important note! If your organization does not have a work plan which included vision, goals, and objectives, you cannot employ social impact measurement at this time. You MUST define the above in advance. Do not know how to do it? Drop in my post on setting goals, and keep up the good work!

SROI  
I love this measure, however and in short, this does not apply in many social services and education nonprofits. If you are dealing with employment or any other outcomes which involve money, this may be the measure for you.
Usefulness (1): Applies to a narrow type of organizations (usually employment services, financial assistance, micro finance, and similar)
Friendliness (1) If you do not learn it thoroughly, and gain lots of knowledge – you probably won’t be able to conduct a reliable SROI analysis
Standardization (2) T
his part gets high score, because lots of research has been done, however there is no option to apply it broadly enough.
Total score: 4/9, 44%/100%

GRI / IRIS
I like the business attitude. This metrics will not save your life, but definitely will give you a way to benchmark your organization. This tool is used by many for-profits in order to monitor their performance, so I would rank it as the following:
Usefulness (1): it gets a low score here, because I am not sure how it is going to help many organizations in their day-to-day management in terms of measuring social outcomes. However some organizations might fall under the suggested social objectives, so I suggest to check it out.
Friendliness (2): the tool seems to be highly recommended and highly used by a variety of organizations. It does not gain the 3 points, because it does not fit every organization.
Standardization (2): you win the entire pot here. The tool is absolutely standardized, and you may feel free to compare your organizational performance to similar organizations in the industry. It is a huge advantage. I ranked it 2, because it does not apply in every field.
Total score: 5/9, 55%/100%

Social Impact Bonds (SIB)
I like the idea of social finance, because it makes much sense. It really builds a reputation for impact investing. In short, the system is designed to invest money in social projects, in order to PREVENT problems from reoccurring in the future (such as second-generation issues, recidivism, unemployment in specific sectors, etc.). The model briefly works by this: funding is given > intervention is made > evaluation of outcomes is conducted > in case of success (i.e. less recidivism, more employment) the government returns money to the investors. Even though I like the idea, I have no clue regarding the metrics and indicators they are using in order to evaluate social programs… it does not seem standardized or friendly, but it is just my outsider opinion.
Moreover, in my opinion, the social impact bonds model seems to fit to a narrow type of outcomes, kinda similar to SROI.
Total score: Unknown!
Ready to Think -Dikla Yogev

My list is much shorter than expected. I reviewed over 10 tools and methodologies, but did not like them at all, so why to mention them?

With that said, when it comes to social services and education, and other soft, hard-to-touch outcomes, the measures and indicators become useless. No usefulness, no friendliness, no standardization. Nothing helps. Therefore we must agree that there is another way to measure, and you know what?! it is not the kind, the gentle one… it is about achieving your objectives, measuring your VALUE. It is that simple.
Your objectives include “improvement of students’ grades”?
Show the improvement, between the beginning of the year and the end.
Your objectives include “women’s empowerment”?
Define what empowerment is, let’s say, they will be more responsible for their day-to-day tasks.
Show they have changed their behavior/attitudes.

Do not use excuses like “they are happy”, “their self esteem is higher”, “I feel it”… these are NOT your objectives, and therefore not the social value you wanted to create.

You will probably need a professional to help you with evaluation, it is impossible to do it alone, if you are not having a certain set of skills and knowledge (p.s. – yes, you may contact me if you need help with evaluations matters… (-: )

My next post in this topic will summarize my insights, and suggest a short-clear way to evaluate social impact; and yes – I am open for your comments and knowledge – just contact me and let me know.

I will be happy to get your comments, likes and shares. In the meantime… live beautifully (-:

 

 

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They completely respect knowledge, and you?!

Warning! the content may make some of you feel uncomfortable, and full of thoughts. I apologize in advance, and yet write about it.

Got to start with a short story… why? because this is the trigger for this very blast.
As you have already noticed, I do not write this blog for a long time, nevertheless I spent almost a decade (and counting) in management consulting in all its glory… and have a backlog of crazy stuff I want to share with you…

2014-08-30 09.04.09

Once upon a time there was a large organization. Actually there were several of them, because it is going too sound you too familiar. The senior executives in this organization are the world’s smartest people, only God is smarter than them. The one and only wisdom is in their hands, and if they say so and so, you gotta say only one word: Yes.
The smartest people sometimes hold two nice shiny letters prior to their first name, yes you guess correctly – DR. Sometimes it takes the shape “PhD” afterward their last name. In any case they absolutely completed their third degree. I do honour each one of them. I have not completed mine yet.

So the smartest people were sitting in the Board of Directors and before letting anyone say a word in regard to an impact evaluation, they refused it out of hand, case closed. Why? because they do not need to know more, they can design it – just 2-3 questions, what’s the big deal??
In a different occasion they just ignored some suggestions for improvements, why? because they are the ones to know, not anyone else.

The story is the introduction for my little lecture below… ready to think?! I start…  (-:
Smart people are smart and knowledgeable, but they certainly do not know everything. Assuming that their PhD is in Physics, they must know better than others in this field. If their PhD is in Nonprofit Management, they must be knowledgeable about the sector, but they are surely not experts in methodology, or business management, unless they have additional experience and education.
…and now I get to the main point: only methodologists are methodologists. Yes, every other academic has conducted research to some degree in some point of their academic career. However! that does not make you an expert in research methods. If you are a good manager, I believe you have great skills, but please do not assume you know to write a survey or design measurement tools. Mmm… no, you do not! You do not know how to define your question, gather data properly, you do not know how to create metrics, you doubtfully know  how to analyze data, and utterly do not know to interpret it. If you want to know how to do the above – gain a set of skills and earn some experience.
I may generalize and say that my message above is right for every field, from business management to mathematics, and the bottom line is – respect the knowledge – it may help you more than you imagine! You know a lot, but be careful and aware of your boundaries. If something does not fall under your expertise, you better ask for professional help, or at least respect the advice given by people who hold education and experience in that area.
I also suggest to look around, you may notice extremely successful organizations that use experts in many aspects, there must be a reason to do so… (-:

ready to think
By the way, I was really searching a movie for this post, because I hate thinking of myself as someone who is just teasing and criticizing, and not giving something relaxing for a change (-:
So, three birds in one stone, “The Beautiful Mind” : I love Russell Crowe, I truly like the movie, and I also find it inspiring and conveying the message. What is the message in my opinion? Short and sweet: Keep calm and respect experts (even when you think they are nuts!)

Enjoy!

 

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Not-for-profit But yes-for-what continues… and today I will start to review the solution!

My post that dealt with the lack of measurement in success terms has led some enlightening comments from my colleagues and past managers, so I have decided to dedicate my coming posts to research this field and dig a bit more. It should be noted that I have done some research in the past, and sort of consider myself as someone who gained some knowledge re SROI or other impact measurement efforts, however insufficient and this is why I find it imperative to research now.
Another note before we dive-in… I plan to write a series of posts in this topic. Firstly, I would like to cover some methodology, i.e. set some conditions for my research. Secondly – review existing solutions in respect to the methodology. Finally, I hope to come to conclusion with the most relevant tools or suggestions for the future.
Ready to think?! Let’s do it!

The first and above all is the question WHY do we need to measure impact in social projects? It is indeed a vital and important question, and… I have a very good answer in my pocket. A very smart senior executive and philanthropist, emailed me the following statement, based on his extensive experience with foundations: about 85% of the funding in social projects is going lost without achieving its goal. These are insane numbers my friends. A simple math will reveal a bare truth. In the US itself ~333.5 billion dollars were donated in 2013. However, based on the above, we can cut out about $300 billion. I stop here, because it hurts to think in global terms (not to mention the lovely governmental “match”).
I am sure most of you already know that there is a critical issue with funding-impact ratio, and this statement is just the straw to break the camel’s back. It was for me, anyway, and as a consequence I have decided to write a wake-up and start thinking post. 

Are you ready to think with me?! I suggest you to comment here or by email, and I promise to integrate your thoughts and credit you in my next posts. I honestly believe that we can work together in order to achieve this goal, as we all have one mission – to find a decent solution. But! we cannot accept every solution. I have developed several criteria in order to consider a route to be a solution, and you are welcome to add more or suggest adjustments:

1. Usefulness
To what extent can we use the measures in day-to-day management? and by this I talk about  the dual role of metrics. I hold this opinion for years, and every time I state it, people are looking at me if I had fallen from the moon. But I actually did not, as long as I recall I was born on earth (-:
So if I get back to the point – the dual role is enabling the use of metrics/measures by both sides, the foundation/funding body and the charity/organization alike. No more measurement for THEM, no more shortening of evaluation time and tools. You want it for your organization because YOU deserve to know what the hell is going on!
2014-09-28 11.22.05
The issue of usefulness hit me like crazy back in 2007, when I was working with senior managers in social services, whom their project was founded by a very large north-American federation. They did not want to measure, nor to learn – they already knew the true, thanks, but no need to measure at all. I asked them why they despise it so much, and they simply said – it is too much work for our overloaded staff, we have no spare time for collecting useless data… they added that they already know the ins and outs so well, so no evaluation or measurement will enlighten anything.
It hit me again when I read Jed Emerson’s post last week, especially here: “I recall a breakout session presentation by one of the world’s best known impact investment organizations—one that appears on everyone’s list of favorite impact funds—listening to a nuanced and well-considered presentation by their head of impact performance. Following the formal PowerPoint show that included impressive definitions, charts and data, the presenter was asked, “How do these impact metrics inform your work?” to which the presenter responded, “Oh—we don’t actually use these metrics in our work. We just need them to give our funders!” After everyone had a good laugh, he said, “No, no—I’m serious—we don’t use them at all!” Peals of continued laughter echoed…”
Things are about to get worse, my dear readers, not a long ago I met a very senior level manager who works for a wealthy foundation. It happened to be with some connection to one of the projects in which I have been involved in the past, so I was more than curious to learn how they used the data and metrics we sent then for review. Sorry to disappoint you – they did not. They donated the money and forgot about it, and the real hell is yet to come – they never use metrics for themselves, as a foundation… and you know what?! they are absolutely not alone. The same shock made me shake, back in 2011 when I realized that a billion dollar foundation NEVER measures impact, never tried to develop something useful, and moreover when I was trying to educate them I got the same feeling of Mars and Venus, Earth and Moon, whatever you name it, I bet you understand me.

If so, I conclude: we need something useful – something that people will want to use, need to use, and feel it’s helpful. And please twice, one for the giving side, one for the taking one. I would say that in this aspect we have to talk business, and learn from business cases how to measure ONCE and EFFICIENTLY for more than one stakeholder.

Ready To Think

2. Friendliness:
To what extent normative managers can use the measures in day-to-day management?
and by this I talk about managers who do not have extensive research background.
It reminds me one of my nonprofit job interviews (-: funny story actually, especially if you consider my very limited knowledge about this sector back then, and specifically the funding issue. The position was highly customer-faced, and dealt with measurement and evaluation in education and social services. The interviewers, there were two of them, asked me if I think that every social service manager or every school principal should use SPSS (yes, the statistical package). I was sure  they are kidding, but they did not, so I answered “of course NOT, they can use Excel which is much easy to adapt, use and learn”, and got the job.
I tell you this story, because I will never agree that managers need to be researchers. They certainly do not! they need to do their job, to manage! and metrics is just another great tool to facilitate decision making and performance measurement. Yes, it is an essential tool, one to be top prioritize for every manager in the nonprofit sector. Yet, I wonder how this vital tool will become friendly and suit every normative manager? I think we can again keep an eye on good business practices. We also may bear in mind that we want something simple, Excel based, and easy to collect data and interpret.
I have to warn you, I got together with enough organization that invested tons of money in IT solutions for their database, and sadly I can barely count the organizations that really USE this information. They often tend to forget about it, and when they tried to retrieve some data, it was always such a burden, and poor quality.

I would also like to add one more thing, I believe in short things. What do I mean? I never like the idea of tons of questions or gathering endless information, we are not conducting an academic study (NO we are not!), we have a mission to measure the impact. In order to do that we have to keep in mind that there are busy people who realistically cannot dedicate themselves to information gathering as their life mission, and therefore it has to be short and useful, not just short, not just useful. BOTH.

If I summarize my impressions and thoughts in this respect,  and would say that there is a vital need for a FRIENDLY and RELEVANT tool to measure nonprofits performance. I do not want to sound as criticizing some existing measures, but I feel they are too complicated, and may not be a good answer to address the friendliness need.

3. Standardization:  to what extent we can expect to use the same measurement for a wide range of projects?
I will leave this measure open for your comments, because I already, kind of, formatted this so firmly in my mind, and I feel too strict…

Hope you enjoyed the reading. Please comment, share and subscribe to my newsletter, I promise to make you think (-:

 Charity defense councilSource: Charity Defense Council

P.S. – A super-talented friend of mine who works in the industry and does a great job with impact an so on, read this post before published, and was quite amazed that I still insist to make efforts to spread these ideas. He said: “You have got to forget SROI and this, no one wants to learn, no one wants to know, they know everything. Even when I try to spoon feed them they won’t listen”. Well, I dedicate couple of songs to you, keep calm and continue doing your great job. Good times are just about to come (-:
Click here if you want to listen the songs. None of them fully expresses my purpose, but absolutely set the tone.

 

 

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Not-for-profit BUT yes-for-what?

I am in love with the not-for-profit sector, I switched around 2006 and almost never look back. I love the idea of helping people, doing good to others, support the world, and make my living as a by-product.
However, I must say that I feel a bit worried. While many great things are happening around, the nonprofit sector seems to stay aside and wait. Wait for what?! you do a great job, however you must understand – there is an essential need to measure your performance. Do not get me the wrong way – YOU need it. not your boss, certainly not the funding organization, not your manager, and not your board of directors. You need it, and you deserve to know what works and what not.

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I do believe that not-for-profit is not for profit, but if we are so confident in that – let’s ask: what are you there for? yes, I get you. You are there to help, to support, to facilitate, to give a hope. I agree, I am absolutely with you. However… how do you know that you really help, support, facilitate, etc.?
Let’s get straight to the point – you need to measure. You have to measure your impact, to benchmark between projects, to justify budgets. You cannot just do the “on the surface” stuff like counting and have nice graphs. Because the question: “how many people used our service in the last 12 months?” is a very good question, but what about the impact? what about the help, support, facilitation and so on? The question: “how many people were satisfied from our service?” is a neat question, however does not provide with any insight of your communal impact.

The questions, mistakenly perceived as unimportant, irrelevant, or annoying, are dealing with your impact. This impact can be evidently measured and give you a very clear picture of what works and what not.

Ask yourself – What is the difference between projects? Why project X and not project Y? Why project X must continue? What project holds the highest SROI? What project has got significant impact on your client’s life?

If you do not have answers to these questions – you better start to work on your impact measurement very soon.

The process of impact measurement will be described in my future posts, so stay tuned and feel free to subscribe to the newsletter.

Second article in this series

Third article in this series

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Everyone uses SMART goals, and you?!

I know – this is almost boring. Actually it is boring, why do I try to embellish reality?!
You have heard over thousands times that goals need to be S.M.A.R.T., and you are tired of it. You are tired because you need a reason to believe that it is going to help.
I used to feel frustrated when meeting with managers who do not like the idea of a work-plan, or do not find the time to do that, or whatever… But you know what?! that is why I started this blog, I wanted to write my thoughts and insights so I can express my enjoyment and belief that these processes really work and benefit organizations. Writing a work-plan may be a real fun, as long as you understand why you do it, and HOW to do it. I promise to do my best and explain the basics as well as the advanced, so if you are ready to think – we go on it, together, right now (-:

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Let’s firstly start with two vital facts:

As a consequence, you must be able to connect these two, and be able to measure, define, criticize, and change your goals and plans.
So, how do you set goals and objectives? Pretty simple actually. We need to clearly split three elementary parts of a work-plan:

  • The vision
  • The goals
  • The objectives

The vision is the wish, the large picture, the general direction, the utopia. The vision is usually articulated by senior executives, mainly board of directors members, and from my experience visions are usually good, and often very impressive. The vision typically includes one to two very meaningful sentences, where every word worth its weight in gold, or at least supposed to. I certainly agree that vision phrasing may take a while, however I am not that convinced it should take forever, and completely disagree with “no vision yet” or a “dead-end” circumstances and excuses. I am very sharp at this point because I see no logic in doing your job when you do not know where to go, and what is the purpose; or even worse – when your employees are lost. (let me put something here – no, you do not work just to earn your salary or remain employed). So, in short – message #1 is: have your vision handy.

Once we are done (if you are not – I promise to write soon on how to write a vision effectively and efficiently, so stay tuned…), and we have our vision – we need to break the vision to small pieces, the goals. Not too small, let’s say up to seven, and the most safe is something between 3-5. I know that there are managers who like the details, or feel that every word needs to get strong attention, or any other persuasive explanation – I suggest you to take it as an exercise – try to focus on 3-5 most important messages from the vision. Why? because you plainly want to do it, and hold it in front of you. Another helpful tip is to extract 3-5 single words that describe the vision the most.

In order to keep yourself in truck – bear in mind, this should take no more than 3-6 meetings with your relevant team, as long as everyone takes notes  independently, and do their homework. (however large organization may stretch it to a process, but still no more than 10 meetings with all of the relevant people are needed).
I suggest the following structure: meeting #1: overall view and open discussion regarding the most important messages from the vision; take notes, do your homework and conference back in meeting #2: the most important messages analysis – you should have a list to narrow. The final product is the 3-5 “raw” goals. This stage may take more than one meeting, but in my opinion and based on my experience – the efficient organizations will benefit the most… In meeting #3 the focus is on phrasing the goals. As I said at the beginning – this is not the SMART stage, we will have it later on. For now you need to just phrase 3-5 full, but short, sentences that express the vision and call for action. In short – message #2: write your goals shortly and clearly, in light of the vision.

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I was trying to think of example that will facilitate my explanation above in a friendly way, and that is why I chose a corny one – Coca-Cola. This document shows Coca-Cola’s 2020 vision, and I recommend you to take a glance especially at the left side – 2020 mission (Vision here), our vision (Words here) , our goals (Goals here). I am not 100% fan of their structure, but I think it gives a clear idea for managers who want to pursue planned processes.

In short:
> Vision: the big picture, usually contains a very small number of meaningful sentences.
> (Words/Raw goals: the fractions of the vision, the words that describe the vision)
> Goals: the actions needed to be taken in order to practice the theory

Part #2 of this article will be covering the connection between goals and objectives, an improved SMART model, and a wrap up of my arguments re vision-goals-objectives.

P.S. I am more than sorry for not entertaining you today with a must watch movie… I could not trace a relevant one in my mind – but will be happy to get your ideas, please share them in comments or email. In the meantime live happily.

 

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He was coherently focusing on his goal, and you?!

Firstly, I would like to thank you my readers! I am more than delighted to see the stats growing every day, and as you remember I am numbers fan… so imagine how happy I am (-:
Secondly, since I have promised last time that I will be talking today re sticking on your goal, be sure – I will do it here and now. Ready to think? Let’s start.

Before I start shooting my arguments, please have a peek at Liam Neeson (I recommend you to watch the whole movie if you haven’t done this yet). The story, in short, deals with “a retired CIA agent travels across Europe and relies on his old skills to save his estranged daughter, who has been kidnapped while on a trip to Paris”. I would like to extract and focus on his techniques: He analysed the situation, targeted the goal, stuck to it, paid costs in order to reach it, and finally kept his promise.

Getting back to our management situation, the beginning seems easy to most of us – just think what you want to do, and you are all set; another way to do it is to write something – yes, work on it, conference relevant people, write a draft and then articulate a final work plan. However, please be aware, at this very early point things are starting to struggle, because you (and your team and/or managers) are deeply convinced that the goal is well known and absorbed, and you may all go rest on your laurels.

Please pay attention to mistake #1: you forget what you have decided, because you did not document it, or because you absently stored it in an abandoned storage site.
A worse version is to actually see it in front of you every day, but let it gather some dust on the shelf, because it mistakenly perceived easy to think freshly every day… The worst option, which you will be surprised to know that there are many people who love to choose, is to see it, remember it, but intentionally ignore it. When I ask managers why they do it, they simply say – I do not believe in plans; I know my goals; I don’t need reminders; I have significantly better ideas; I have no time for reading it, and let’s not forget the best excuse: I am focusing on the “doing”…

Well, my friends, this is mistake #2: you definitely do not remember your goals and plans. No one does. That is why you wrote it. You have a great tool, the plan or the paper with your goal written on it, use it. Read it every time you feel unconfident or search for routes. Promise you – it helps, a lot! Bear in mind, a written plan is very often better than a random idea, as great as it is. Not to mention the time consuming aspect… you go back to your written plan – you also save your expensive time!
I can assure you, there are people who will not like your strong-minded attitude of being planned, but sooner or later they will agree with your paradigm, because the results will be there load and clear.

In order to write your goal in a usable way for future examination and development – you should phrase it correctly, what do I mean by that?! Please follow my next post.

In short: keep calm and trust your written plan.

P.S. If you wish to continue reading in this topic, please consider reviewing this article on how to set goals in work plan.

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