Archive for Evaluation for Lean Times
The thing I have noticed the most during these tough economic times is that no one is thinking. Everyone, from corporate CEOs, to legislators, to non-profit directors and staff, even evaluation consultants are scrambling. They are often running from one meeting to another and halfway through the next one they realize they had a thought from the last one that would be relevant for their work. At the end of the day there are legal pad pages or post-its with scribbles of notes of thoughts that came at some point during one meeting or another with no context and who knows which meeting they came out of or what thought process was in place when they were scribbled. My quick tip for the day is STOP and THINK! Give yourself 20 minutes today, no computer, no phone and focus very intently on one situation that you are currently dealing with. It may mean reading some of that journal article you’ve been meaning to get to, or it may mean a blank piece of paper in front of you for sketching out the solution to something your agency is facing. It may mean making sure you remember your job description! My fear in all of this scrambling is that when we come out of this (note I said “when”, because we will come out of it) we will be backed into a corner. Now is the time to think about all of our decisions, be the one person you know who is calmly, clearly, and intently thinking about the solutions for the problems of the day. I recently heard a local legislator say that whoever comes with the plan will win the day…let’s make sure the plan is well thought out, organized, and focused on solving the problems we face.
Call or email a client from your past today. Cultivating the relationship is very much a part of the independent consultant’s job. The quick tip I offer today is the logic model. The tried and true trusty logic model. Many people are moving away from it, but its simplicity allows for quick and easy focus on the work that needs to be done. Today, when you email or call a past client offer to them the suggestion to use a 2 minute single activity version of the logic model when they are directing staff for the day or at a staff meeting. Ask staff to find 1 thing that they focus on that day. What do they put into that? Are they utilizing all the resources at hand? What exactly do they do with that client (are they following procedure as the best practice recommends?) and finally are they getting the results they desire (all of the results they desire)? Quick and powerful, this single activity focus can create an agency that is managing performance and thus increasing its evaluation capacity! The 2 minute single activity logic model…use it today!
Those of us who work with small non-profits are watching them struggle under the pressure of our current economic situation. What can we, as evaluators, do to help them when they can barely keep the lights on? Evaluation, whether or not we want to admit it, is a luxury, most social and human service agencies are doing the best they can to serve their clients and keep the staff paid. There is not money for “evaluation” during these times…or is there? What I’m finding useful as we all make our way through these trim economic waters is that the little things matter. Now is the time to check and see what data processes are in place, which ones are working? Which ones are taking too much time for the staff to use? As an evaluation consultant I’m finding just a 20 minute conversation with my clients can help them focus on a small particular aspect of their current operations that can be improved, streamlined, or done away with completely. These are the times to look inside!! Stay tuned…this week is going to be focused on tiny tips for independent evaluation consultants who are trying to support their client base in lean times.