Image source: Alan Laroche
Dr Paul Duignan on Outcomes:
Measuring stuff costs money. This was brought home by a group of 6th graders in the U.S. recently when they started demanding payment for being involved in piloting academic tests.
The tests are part of the system for English and Math assessments in schools. The kids pointed out that the company that was developing the tests would make money from them, so why shouldn't they? Link.
Their demands highlight the fact that it's not trivial and cost-free to measure many things. There's often a huge infrastructure needed to generate the measurements we use in our outcomes work.
Decision-makers often blithely say to a program or organization, 'you must measure your outcomes'. However what's always needed is a consideration of the feasibility and affordability of measurement in the particular sector.
This varies enormously between sectors and decision-makers need to take this into account when setting up accountability arrangements. If they don't then they run the risk of privileging programs and organizations in which it's either cheap and easy to measure results or there's a legacy of investment in measurement within the sector.
Innovative programs are, by definition, more likely to face measurement issues because there's not the legacy of measurement behind them. Once again this illustrates the point that an overly simplistic approach to measurement can work against innovation and effective strategy.
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