“Without a strong performance management infrastructure, we never would have understood there was a problem.”
Isaac Castillo, former Director of Learning and Evaluation, Latin American Youth Center
At the Latin American Youth Center, we offered a parenting program. And with that parenting program, we wanted to make some small adjustments on it to really focus on domestic violence instruction. We added a couple sessions focused on domestic violence. And really what we're trying to do is shift the attitudes towards domestic violence. We looked at the data at the end of the program, and actually we had found that we had shifted the attitudes towards domestic violence in the complete opposite direction than we had intended. We, in a very real sense, had caused harm to these participants. Not physical harm, but harm in terms of their attitudes toward domestic violence are going in the wrong direction. We then immediately stopped the program and tried to figure out: What were we doing wrong? Why are the outcomes not going in the direction that we had intended? We called in some outside experts, some consultants that had expertise in doing domestic violence in the Latino community especially. And we found we made a couple what seem now to be really obvious, very rookie mistakes. I like telling this story because without the data collection inherent in this process, without a strong performance management infrastructure, we never would have understood that there was a problem with this program, and we never would have motivated ourselves to make the change to improve the program going forward. Without a performance management infrastructure—without a good, strong outcome measurement infrastructure—we would still be causing harm to those participants to this day. I think that there are many organizations across the world that have the best intentions at heart but don't have the infrastructure in place to identify where they could be doing harm to their participants. And identifying those harmful interactions is critical to improving programming going forward.