If you’re on the path to high performance and putting these materials to use, we encourage you to take a few minutes to share your experiences with us. We want to learn how we can keep improving our own efforts. And please let us know if it’s okay for us to include your information in an upcoming edition of the Leap of Reason Update for the benefit of others who are wrestling with similar challenges.
Here are some examples of insights leaders have shared.
“There is compelling qualitative evidence that the organizations have become more focused on outcomes and committed to using data to improve them.”
Ellen G. Bass, director of the Black Ministerial Alliance of Greater Boston’s Capacity Tank, wrote to share details of her efforts to spark a performance-management revolution among small and mid-size community-based organizations. “I [have] just helped 15 youth agencies in Boston build their performance-management systems over the last two years, working under David Hunter’s tutelage,” she wrote. In the words of an independent evaluation, the initiative “achieved transformational results for some of the organizations and dramatic changes in programmatic thinking and action for just about all of them…. There is compelling qualitative evidence that the organizations have become more focused on outcomes and committed to using data to improve them.”
“The contrast between the projects’ nice-looking reports and their lack of meaningful results ‘was driving us crazy.'”
Aleksandar Ristin, who coordinates a network of 20 nonprofit and public-sector organizations in Serbia that are managing many EU-funded projects, told us that “most of the projects were without lasting/sustainable results, with most of them just sinking in the sand after their (always) ‘successful’ completion.” The contrast between the projects’ nice-looking reports and their lack of meaningful results “was driving us crazy.” Last summer, Ristin and his colleagues stumbled upon Leap of Reason and made it required reading within their NGO network. They used the book, as well as materials from the European Venture Philanthropy Association, to spark a profound rethink within the network. In Ristin’s words: “To cut the long story short, our organisations and their programs and projects now have the impact-first focus…. We are demanding attention on sound, outcomes-based project management [and] choosing to support a much smaller number of higher-caliber organisations and projects.” Most encouraging of all, Ristin is sharing his work with EU officials looking for new approaches to ensure more impactful use of development funds Europe-wide.
“The talented leaders of ideastream… turned Leap’s ‘Ideas into Action’ section into a survey… They reported that the exercise was both illuminating and surprising.”
Jerry Wareham and Kit Jensen, the talented leaders of ideastream, the multiple-media public service organization that owns and operates Northeast Ohio’s public TV and radio stations, turned Leap’s “Ideas into Action” section into a survey to assess their senior team’s perceptions of how they were doing on key indicators of performance. They reported that the exercise was both illuminating and surprising. They found an unexpected variation of perceptions among the members of the senior management team. Instead of turning away from this finding, Jerry and Kit are planning an in-depth work session to dig deeper into the team’s perspectives in an effort to achieve alignment regarding the readiness of the organization to fully embrace an outcomes-based model.