Thanks to ECDG’s Advisory Group member, Scott Bayley, for sharing this thoughtful paper on leadership’s critical role in support of evaluation.
Senior leaders have many opportunities to demonstrate their support for EVALUATION (using evidence to inform decision making at all stages of the program management cycle to drive continuous improvement):
- By making statements advocating the benefits of EVALUATION.
- By consistently modelling/demonstrating a commitment to EVALUATION in their own work. Actively seeking performance feedback and using this to drive continuous improvement. Leaders need to give performance matters their constant attention. Personal attention at the operational level.
- Through their support for organizational EVALUATION policies, systems, guidelines, tools, and actual practices/culture.
- By championing an explicit EVALUATION capacity building program that is adequately resourced, implemented and monitored/evaluated.
- By initiating engagement with key external stakeholders and building a consensus about performance expectations.
- By publically participating in EVALUATION training and coaching activities.
- By taking EVALUATION considerations into account when making resource allocation decisions.
- Supporting the creation of operational communities of practice.
- Through the questions that senior leaders ask of staff and colleagues at meetings. Do conversations focus on undertaking activities/disbursing $ or on achieving/improving results?
- Through their expectations of their own staff.
- By emphasizing learning and improvement, enhancing organizational capacity and systems while actively encouraging performance discussions.
- By their reaction to problems and crises.
- Through who they employ and their application of rewards, promotions, and sanctions.
- By constructively managing ‘resistance’ to EVALUATION and supporting branches and individuals to make the transition (or help individuals to move on to another agency if they are unable to make the transition).
- Supporting external bodies to oversee and critique agency performance.
- By creating formal and highly visible mechanisms for leadership to oversee performance and drive continuous improvement. These groups need to be supported with structures, policies and resources; training and coaching; quality data; and a leader with authority who can model the desired behaviours. For example, Board Performance Improvement Committees focussed on strategy and KPIs, Balanced Scorecard Groups, CompStat models, Executive Program Review Committees, etc.
- By ensuring all interventions have theory of change/program logic models in place with corresponding M&E frameworks.
- By holding staff accountable for learning and continuous improvement.
- Leaders communicating the importance of evaluative thinking and using evidence to drive continuous improvement
- Leaders resourcing evaluation policies and practices
- Leaders actively requesting evidence and action to address key performance deficits
- Leaders modelling the use of evidence in their own decision-making.
Our theory of change should be:
Performance leadership + appropriate incentives and organisational capacity leads to improved performance and ultimately cultural change.
Better measurement and reporting leads to increased transparency, accountability, better decision making and ultimately improved performance (this approach has been tried in a number of countries over the past 35 years and has consistently failed).
Principal Specialist, Performance Management & Results
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT)