Doing good in the world of deliverology

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

by Kent Aitken RSS / cpsrenewalFacebook / cpsrenewalLinkedIn / Kent Aitkentwitter / kentdaitkengovloop / KentAitken

In February we read and reflected on a book called How to Run a Government so that Citizens Benefit and Taxpayers Don't Go Crazy. which essentially lays out a playbook for governments to follow up on their priorities and ensure that concrete actions are being taken, by everyone who needs to take them. It's about goal-setting, measurement, tracking, and clearing obstacles to maintain forward momentum.

The book was making the rounds in political and public service circles, but I said I'd wait to see if and when it influenced our organizations. It would seem I was overly skeptical - the results focus and delivery language is here.

With that in mind, a quick thought on measuring, well, anything:

There's a Venn diagram of things that sound good and things that are good. For organizations that are incredibly good at goal-setting, choosing key performance indicators, and measurement, these two circles will overlap reasonably closely. But they'll never match perfectly*.

For the working level, this means you have to think not only in terms of results but also in how those results might be proved, and what audiences are in the stands. It means aiming for the overlap, or trying to make the overlap bigger: that is, changing the narrative so that actions in the things that are good circle start to sound better and better.

For executives, this means recognizing the difference between measurability and genuine impact, triangulating your understanding of the program from multiple sources, and asking the meta-level question: "How do we know our measurements are accurate and valuable?"

*We could go into a much longer discussion about the limits of metrics, and I suspect at least one commenter will.