(This is a guest post from Debra Natenshon, CEO of the Center for What Works at The Rensselaerville Institute.)
If you’re running a nonprofit organization or in charge of a program, you’ve probably been encouraged (read: cajoled, ordered…) to develop some outcomes to “document results” in your program delivery. If you’ve finally decided that this is a good idea and you’re ready to jump into outcome management, how do you know if your organization is really prepared for a major shift in your standard operating procedures? Consider the following key questions to assess your organization’s ability embrace outcome thinking and management:
Is the organization ready?
When the conversations diverge from talking about activities to talking about results, an organizational mind shift occurs. Be sure that you have the right people on your team and that they aren’t distracted by any significant organizational distractions (i.e. leadership shift, major capital campaign, etc.). Honestly consider the capacity of the organization to ensure a good use of time and that you’re on a path toward results – even if you still need the tools and guidance to achieve success.
Is there a willing champion at the top?
Having organizational buy-in is key. You’re not going to spearhead a successful shift to outcome management without an energetic executive director/CEO to champion the effort, communicating their desire to improve--even if it requires change--helping to clear obstacles, and steering the appropriate resources. Before you begin, make sure your executive director and key members of the board are committed to the effort.
Is the organization able?
Once you’ve built the right team and found a champion in your leadership, assess your organization’s systems – are you able to capture the necessary program data? You’ll not only need the right tools, but also the time to educate your team on how to use them. Often this isn’t just about timing, but the willingness to make time. Be sure that there’s time carved out of your schedule to assess your organization’s current status, plan what needs to be done, and help staff with designing better methods for using data once its collected.
Want to learn more? Join us for the upcoming Outcome Thinking and Management webinar series. The four-part series is a change-management effort to take good, well-managed social sector organizations to the next level of results for the people they serve. We’ll go beyond a typical logic model seminar to get your organization into the actions of prototyping and prioritizing which data to track and how to use it to improve.
If you are ready, willing, and able, then join us on Tuesday afternoons in May to start your journey from provider to high performer!
P.S. You can also follow the webinar series on Twitter by using the hashtag #wantresultsfc.