Step out of the lines 5: From Split Measurement to Shared Measurement

Yonathan Almog, Mayers-JDC-Brookdale Institute

sharedmeasurementDoes your organization measure the outcomes of its initiatives? Does it evaluate alone or in a joint effort with other organizations?
While more and more organizations answer “yes” to the first question, only a few can nod in agreement to the second one.
Today, the process of measuring outcomes is usually performed in any organization in isolation from others – each organization sets for itself the objectives and then measures the extent to which they are achieved. But we recognize an important development in the social sphere: increasing attempts of groups of organizations to engage in joint measurement and in the development of common metrics.
In fact, one of the five pillars of Collective Impact (CI) initiatives is implementing a process of joint measurement. This is since collaboration around measurement issues is becoming increasingly relevant with the growing efforts taking place to promote cross-sector collaboration in the social sphere.
What is shared measurement? And what are the common measures?
Shared measurement is conducted in cooperation between several organizations involved in a specified field who work to achieve similar or common goals. Shared measurement allows these organizations to look together at the bigger picture, beyond their isolated actions and influence, and to strengthen aspects of mutual learning.
When the shared measurement is performed by organizations collaborating on aspects beyond measurement, the shared measurement can be a key means of creating a common language, of strengthening and preserving collaboration, and of effective direction towards coordinated action.
Common measures are a supportive infrastructure for measurement that include a menu of defined outcomes, outcome measures, and measurement tools in a given social field. This menu can be accessible to users via a report, a computer program, or client interface.
The decision of the various organizations that are working for similar goals to adopt common measures allows them to set their outcomes in a similar manner and to measure the extent to which these outcomes are achieved by using the definitions and measurement tools consistently. The use of common measures can be utilized between collaborating organizations as well as between organizations that do not work together.
One example in the development of common measures is the “Measuring Together” initiative which was launched in 2011 by the New Philanthropy Capital organization. As part of this initiative, the organization works with not-for-profit associations, organizations, and funding foundations to develop common indicators in the areas of their operations. For example, one area of their activity is helping young people who are “disconnected.” In order to define common measures, they conducted a comprehensive review of existing knowledge in the literature and conducted extensive consultations. In this context, they first defined the expected outcomes from this activity (raising self-esteem, reducing the use of dangerous materials, etc.) and then measurements and measuring tools were defined for each outcome.
In Israel and around the world there is a growing interest in common measures and shared measurement. However, to date, there is limited experience in Israel in the development and implementation of these practices.

A new review by the Myers-JDC-Brookdale Institute (MJB), with the support of the Rothschild Caesarea Foundation, deals with developing understanding and knowledge on this subject. In addition, MJB will soon complete a practical guide to support shared measurement applications, which will complement tools discussed in the review. The hope is that both MJB publications will further efforts to develop common measures and shared measurement in the social sector in Israel.

For the Hebrew version of the blog, click here.

Additional Reading:

Almog, J. Habib, c. 2013. Shared Measurement of Social Outcomes :A Literature Review, Conceptualization and Conceptual Development. RR-13-646, Myers-JDC-Brookdale Institute, Jerusalem.
Almog, Y.; Habib, J. 2013.”The Role of Shared Measurement in Collaborations and its Effective Implementation – what have we Learned thus Far?” Lecture presented at the conference Collaboration among Government, Market, and Society: Forging Partnerships and Encouraging Competition, Shanghai, China.
http://brookdale.jdc.org.il/?CategoryID=311
Almog, Y.; Rosen, B.; Habib, J. 2014.”Accountability and Shared Measurement in Health Care: Examples from Israel“. Lecture presented at the conference Public Accountability under Market Pressures: Reshaping its Forms and Values, Oxford Institute of Social Policy in association with the European Studies Centre, St. Antony’s College.

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Step out of the lines 4: Better Outcomes through Changing Systems, Practices, and Behaviors

Greg Landsman, Executive Director, The Strive Partnership

striveIn education today, at all levels, and in every corner of every country, we can all point to pockets of great successes, seemingly intractable mediocrity, and undeniable failures. It’s the mediocrity and failures that have most puzzled education policy-makers and other concerned leaders and engaged parents for decades, if not longer. While there is no single answer or silver bullet to tackle education mediocrity and failures, the approach of outcomes-focused, collective impact is helping many communities make progress where others continue to struggle.

We are pursuing this approach in the Cincinnati, Ohio region through The Strive Partnership (http://www.strivepartnership.org/), while helping other communities do similar work through StriveTogether (http://www.strivetogether.org/). These two entities work together to support the collective efforts of cross-sector leaders to improve outcomes for children and students, cradle to career, by taking on a very unique and data-informed approach to changing systems, practices, and behaviors. Without taking this on, we would argue that communities will continue to see similar results – even if new money or new programming might help improve outcomes marginally and temporarily.

While we have a long way to go, 89 percent of The Strive Partnership’s shared measures are trending in the right direction. That’s up from 81 percent the previous year, and 68 percent four years ago. While progress is being made, the partnership will continue its collective efforts until every child is succeeding, every step of the way, cradle to career.  To learn more about our results, explore our 2012-13 Partnership Report.

To have transformative and sustainable impact – on outcomes such as school readiness, reading and math scores, and college graduation rates – leaders must come together, across sectors, to rally around a set of shared and measurable goals – and then be willing to use good data to change the systems in which they operate, the practices that are not working, and the behaviors that have maintained the broken systems and bad practices that have led to mediocre results and failures that hold children and students back.

To get this done, leaders have to commit to working together, focus on a set of shared outcomes, and use data to better align efforts and resources to best practices.

This is our approach to collective impact. We encourage you to review our approach, and consider what this could mean for your work, and the outcomes you are trying to improve in your community.

It takes a “We’re all in this together” mentality and a “We’ve got your back” culture.  That plus the right people at the table, committed to the most important shared outcomes, and a deep desire to ensure every child is getting what they need – and that what they are getting is working. It takes a child-centered, outcome-based focus – and a real commitment to use data to get better at serving children.

Too much is at stake to approach the work of improving outcomes for our kids in any other manner.

Greg Landsman, Executive Director, The Strive Partnership, Landsmang@strivetogether.org

Click here, for the Hebrew version.

Step out of the lines 3: The five conditions of collective impact

 Anat Pessate-Schubert, Director, Ashalim Knowledge and Learning Center (JDC)

five conditionsCollective Impact ‘CI’ is defined as a commitment of a group of major players from different sectors to a common agenda in order to tackle a specific complex problem. Compared to other models of colaboration, the collective impact model is more effective because it is meticulous and structured. Collective impact, as formulated by Kania and Kramer (2011), is based on the following five major conditions below. We suggest that everyone examine how these conditions can be implemented.

Common agenda  is based on consensus about the nature of the given social problem. In ‘CI’, all stakeholders share a joint social vision which aims to change the existing situation. This vision is based on agreement about the central problem that needs to be solved, as well as an agreed-upon approach to finding a solution through learning and joint action.

In the context of the field of social work, this issue raises questions of how to gather all of the partners from different sectors to create a consensus. It also raises questions about the similarities and differences between the definitions of roles at various levels, and between areas of formal responsibility and leadership to benefit the common goal.

A shared measurement system for building a common agenda and joint definition of a social problem requires the agreement of all stakeholders about issues such as how success will be measured, methods of measurement and reporting. This component of the ‘CI’ model allows all stakeholders to learn together through the process, to identify special points that require attention, and to form a sense of mutual responsibility.

In the context of creating solutions in the social work field, this system raises issues related to leveraging data that exists in different places and using this data correctly and effectively.  In addition, it addresses issues regarding the skills, learning processes, and understandings of the steps required to provide appropriate responses.

Open and continuous communication between the all the partners during the joint learning processes is needed in order to build mutual trust, define common goals, define measures of success, and create a sense of urgency and motivation for action.

This is a challenge that all of the stakeholders face. Each partner is required to develop and maintain formal and informal communication mechanisms with all of the other partners and to build relationships based on mutual trust and partnership. It is worthwhile to concentrate on which knowledge and skills are needed by individuals in positions of responsibility, as well as the organizational tools and mechanisms for informal work.

Mutually reinforcing activities, which are essential to the ‘CI’ process so that each of the partner organizations can work independently depending on their individual value, capabilities, and unique strengths. However, each of these independent operations must be synchronized in advance and must be managed based on a comprehensive and collaborative work plan between all of the partners.

On the one hand, officials belonging to various organizations require identification and understanding of the unique value added by each of the partners, but on the other hand they must build a plan of action that evokes unique added value as well as synchronization. This is a complex challenge that requires a strong yet flexible leadership to enable both independence and collaboration between those partners with different roles.

A backbone support organization is required in order to create leadership and management processes to plan and coordinate the collective impact. This requires the existence of a separate organization, with appropriate knowledge and abilities, to be used as the backbone for the entire partnership. This organization is the leader of the collaboration initiative and is responsible for all of the operations of the stakeholders within the framework of the partnership.

The duties of the backbone organization are to create a coordinated and synchronized operation of all of the partner organizations by formulating a common agenda, supporting coordinated action, determining resource allocation, establishing a common measurement system, and promoting the development of public involvement.

For more information about collective impact, and information about the promotion of social impact through the collective impact model, visit the following links:

Channeling Change: Making Collective Impact Work

Collective Impact

Until next time, we are happy to hear your comments.

Anat.

Click here for the Hebrew version of the blog.

Step out of the lines 2: Alexa, Social Impact, and Collective Impact

Anat Pessate-Schubert, Director, Ashalim Knowledge and Learning Center (JDC)

 snowAs we approach each of the great social challenges of our time we must acknowledge that old thinking will not provide the new solutions we need. These solutions will be uncomfortable, hard to sell, and risky to execute. But the cost of not doing so is even greater.”   Simon Mainwaring


Let us begin our current interaction with a short quiz:

Who is Alexa?

a)      Michelle Obama’s daughter

b)      Katrina’s sister

c)      Recent snow storm in Israel

d)      None of the above

What do handling Alexa and collective impact (‘CI’) have in common?

a)      Breakthrough thinking

b)      No ego trip

c)      Leading and synchronizing the collaboration process

d)      All of the above

How did you do? If you answered c and d, then you are correct and recognize the need for new thinking to solve society’s challenges.

Alexa is an allegory… Coping with a natural disaster and the complicated situation it creates requires the involvement of various stakeholders, each with their distinct interests and agenda.  Lacking prior data and sufficient understanding of the various parameters and components of such a complex situation, decision-makers must embrace multiple solutions as well as multiple solution providers.

Alexa as an allegory to a complex and urgent social problem highlights the importance of cooperation and collaboration in order to achieve broad and meaningful impact. During the last few years, an agenda based on collaboration and focused on achieving a substantial social impact has become a norm in projects for at risk populations.

Today, most social experts acknowledge that achieving a sustainable social impact is doable via various collaboration models. It has also become clear that dealing with large complex social problems requires stakeholders from all sectors (donors, civil organizations, governments, residents, etc.) to think differently in order to create a real broad social impact. One of the most innovative tools currently used to create such impact is the ‘CI’ model.

‘CI’ is an obligation of a group of key stakeholders from different sectors to jointly apply a common agenda aimed at tackling a complex problem. In the domain of collaboration and broader social impacts, ‘CI’ is positioned as the new narrative of systematic work dealing with complex problems. This model differs from all other social collaboration models in the following ways:

 Allowing us to step out of lines and think differently

 Implementing five principles as a template and guideline for collaboration from day one

 Managing collaboration in a unique and sustainable mindset

The following story illustrates the growing understanding in different domains that achieving a significant, sustainable social impact requires a major change of mind and adoption of new innovative working models, one of which as noted, is the ‘CI’ model:

In a US community, a local newspaper published a news bulletin which caught many by surprise. It was a joint notice by various  funders of education programs regarding a halt of all funding. In fact, this was the first step in informing the community about a paradigm shift in the thinking of all stakeholders involved in promoting education in the community. The initial reaction to the announcement was total shock, but at the same time it was a turning point in dealing with the poor performance of the system and its low-achieving students. What then seemed by many as a breaking point, was in fact the basis for the emergence of a new innovative solution for all, and in particular for the funding community. This dramatic resolution established new ways of thinking/working and changed all existing trends of financial support as well as the level of commitment of all the stakeholders in the community. In summary, there was no more massive financial investment in many separate projects/organizations. Instead, the investment was being made in collaboration in how to do things in an efficient and synchronized manner!

‘CI’ was selected as the model used to promote the new collaborative work method to advance this community’s education system.

And now back to Alexa. One may wonder how cities such as Jerusalem, Safed, and others would have coped differently if indeed all parties were embracing the ‘CI’ model as their main guideline.

Curious?

Want to know whether you are dealing with real complex social issues? How does one operate to create a ‘CI’ -based social impact? What are the basic conditions for implementing the ‘CI’ model? Why does ‘CI’ fit very large, complex, and urgent situations?

If you answered yes to the first question, and have shown some interest in my other questions, please join me on next post. Until then, have a happy holiday season and of course, feel free to leave a comment. Your feedback is more than welcome.

Click here, for the Hebrew version of the blog.

Step out of the lines 1: The Art of Collective Impact

Anat Pessate-Schubert, Director, Ashalim Knowledge and Learning Center (JDC)

מחברת ciThis blog post is the first in a series that will explore the concept and practice of Collective Impact – ‘CI’ – a unique collaboration management methodology making recent headlines around the world for managing complex transformation processes. Here we relate to the need for a new approach to collaboration that can be used to promote social change, and in later posts we will address the very issue of ‘CI’, its principles, dilemmas, as well as best practices in the field.
‘CI’ is being talked about and implemented widely as a new and more effective approach to collaboration. How does ‘CI’ compare to traditional collaboration models? And what advantages does it hold? Continue reading