Results and performance cannot
be documented if we cannot measure them. So we need to have clear objectives and good strategic frameworks. We need to find the most appropriate instruments of measurement and we need to identify significant and meaningful indicators and develop good processes for results measurement. Brought together in a coherent system, this can help bring us where we want to be, and encourage the practices and behaviours that will help us stay there.
But on the way forward, through
the various steps of performance management, we need to remember the lessons of experience. We must be aware of some key dimensions in managing for results, dimensions that we have learnt through years of practice, and which we integrate in all the work we do and all the proposals and approaches we develop in Kabell Konsulting.
The very first lesson is
that evaluation and results measurement must be thought into projects, programmes and processes from the start, not be an add-on when projects are almost finished. Use of Log-frames or other tools support logical thinking, and the establishment of causal links helps clarify goals and expected outcomes. Having clear objectives from the outset is already one step towards a successful outcome.
The second lesson is the importance of behavioural factors. A central statement within performance management runs:
”What gets measured gets done”
Behavioural factors are at the core of this statement, and we must take them into account when applying results-based management. Behavioural factors influence and have consequences at all levels of an organisation. In Kabell Konsulting we are very conscious about these consequences, and we know the importance of ensuring that a performance management system is designed so that it is consistent with and supports the organisation’s overall goals, vision and values. The consequences, if it is not, can be serious for the overall performance and results of an organisation.
The third lesson relates to performance management systems. These systems are only as good as the data-entries. And data entries are only good if systems are perceived as useful not only for the top management that uses the output of the systems; they must also be seen as useful to all the other levels of an organization through which results cascade. This is the third key lesson that we have high on our minds in every assignment. Systems that are seen by staff as primarily for reporting to management are often seen as a burden, and their potential rarely fully used. Whereas systems, on the other hand, that build on instruments that are designed so that they are of use to staff in their
tasks also, are appreciated for the support they provide. These systems have a better chance of giving added value to the institution, its staff and ultimately contribute to generating the results it is designed to measure.
The fourth lesson is in systems
process, an intriguing aspect of performance management. The ultimate objective of our assignments is often developing or improving systems; yet, we are very aware of the key contribution that a good process can bring.
Researchers have long observed that:
”Measuring a phenomenon can affect the phenomenon”
A joint reflection on the strategic issues facing each institution is therefore a first step in developing an approach for evaluation or results measurement, or the design of a results management system. Our aim is that every evaluation or assessment should not only generate evaluative information and insights, but should also contribute to develop capacity. Each evaluative activity should build capacity and support and improve the reviewed organization’s performance.
Therefore stakeholder management is a key aspect of everything we do.
Evaluation and results measurement are strategic processes, this is the fifth lesson. This adds importance to the findings and the process itself. Measuring the wrong thing, measuring it inappropriately, or making improper use of what is measured will increase the likelihood that the wrong things get done, jeopardizing the very objective of managing for results. Therefore, indicators are a central element of any performance management system, and developing indicators a key task in any measurement activity. It is not an easy task and many efforts often go into finding the “best” indicator. One of our basic principles in Kabell Konsulting is that:
”It is better to have an imprecise indicator of an important result, than a precise indicator of an unimportant result”
The discipline of performance management is continuously evolving. Our ambition in Kabell Konsulting is always to be in the vanguard of international development within our discipline. We actively use our extensive professional network internationally and in Denmark to try ensure that we are updated on the latest academic theory and research findings, on new international agreements on standards and guidelines, and we participate where we can in exchanges of experience and development of Best Practices. We spend time and resources on continuously upgrading our own skills and competencies, and capacity building is also a key issue in our internal management.