A learning approach
We have specialised in, and promoted, the learning style of evaluation for over 20 years. This respects the accountability requirements of funders, but centres evaluation firstly around the organisation’s own learning needs. The learning approach provides a narrative structure across the organisation, which links different projects and departments into a joint exploration of strategic questions. Each evaluation report contributes to and deepens this learning journey rather than operating in isolation in its own intellectual space. The learning approach integrates formal evaluations and enquiries with internal knowledge, including tacit knowledge from staff and partners.
We have developed specific tools for fostering, developing and documenting learning. These include learning seminars and learning frameworks.
A participative approach
All of our work is carried out with a participative approach. We are strongly committed to demystifying evaluation rather than making clients dependent on us. Our work includes:
- Running conceptualisation and logic modelling workshops to help clarify the objectives and intended outcomes from a programme.
- Writing questionnaires to be applied by clients staff.
- Devising information systems to be integrated with programme operation.
- Running learning workshops that bring stakeholder together to reflect on problems, solutions and lessons learnt.
- Writing up evaluation reports using data collected by the client using our questionnaires.
- Writing learning frameworks to structure enquiry across the client organisation.
- Commenting on evaluation proposals submitted to the client.
- Responding to evaluation questions and issues as they arise.
We often have a long term relationship with our clients.
A developmental approach
Our role is to build your capacity to empower your board, staff and managers to think evaluatively, to integrate enquiry into their everyday work and direct evaluation towards questions that are most important strategically for your organisation. This can include group training and/or individual mentoring. One of the benefits of a developmental approach is that it makes evaluation lean and cost effective.
Performance measurement systems offer many benefits to organisations:
- Linking strategic objectives and operational plans.
- Stimulating and documenting organisational learning.
- Encouraging discussion across departments and functions.
- Exploring how programmes and projects achieve their effects.
- Illustrating achievements and therefore increasing staff morale.
- Strengthening relationships with funders.
However, in practice, performance measurement systems often fail to meet their potential because they:
- Concentrate on what is easy to measure rather than what is meaningful.
- Are externally imposed and do not develop ownership within the organisation.
- Fail to apply appropriate quality checks to data.
- Concentrate on outputs rather than outcomes.
- Are not integrated with management information systems.
- Take on too much.
- Report too late or too irregularly to inform decision making.
- Do not report in a form that users find meaningful or useful.
Principles of good practice in performance measurement
We design performance measurement systems taking a systematic, embedded approach using these principles:
- Stakeholder approach
- Value for money.
We are increasingly employed as mentors to help managers and leaders. We use evaluative thinking and our knowledge of how organisations work to provide a structure and context for you to reflect on your work, test ideas using evaluation techniques, and translate findings into action.
We have ongoing relationships to carry out business reviews for the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation and other funders. Our approach is to use evaluative thinking to lend precision and focus to a frank but sympathetic discussion about organisational challenges and appropriate action plans.
Our tools include:
- Evaluation audit. We can provide feedback on your current evaluation systems, giving precise and practice advice on how to make it more meaningful, useful, easy to collect, vividly presented etc.
- A health check. Our tool analyses the strengths and weaknesses of the organisation to provide insight into general features such as resilience.
- Strategic planning review. This uses a theory of change model to help organisations understand their intended outcomes, core competences and critical success factors.
- Board review. Our diagnostic tool reflects a positive model of governance as good decision making. The review process includes facilitated discussion and action planning.
- Employee/freelancer survey. This analyses employee satisfaction within a wider understanding of the strategic role and understanding of employees/freelancers.
We offer three one day courses:
- An introduction to evaluation.
- An introduction to performance measurement.
- Training for interviewers.
In addition, we can provide customised, in-house training on evaluation or performance measurement.
Please contact us for information about the next dates for our training firstname.lastname@example.org