Preparing to innovate through evaluation: Questions to ask your management team
As you begin the process of shifting your organizational culture toward one that embraces data gathering, outcome evaluation, and accountability as opportunities to encourage innovation, you may see some resistance. Gather as much information about the views, thoughts, and opinions of agency-level, department-level, and program-level management in your organization about the basic bullet points of the plan. This feedback will be really important to make sure we are providing helps rather than hindrances through the implementation of this.
Consider starting with the following questions:
1. How are you currently evaluating the quality of your work, and how can we help you to do that better?
2. If you were able to improve efficiency in your department (or program or agency), what would you like to do with the financial and human resources you were able to save?
3. What would you like our funders and your bosses to know about the work you do?
4. Are there effective practices you’ve seen implemented in other agencies or states that you’d love to try but can’t? Why can’t you?
5. What would a “real innovation” in your field of work look like? Would it be faster, more effective, more convenient, less expensive, or would it be some sort of shift in philosophy, funding model, or approach?
6. What qualifies, as “useful” paperwork or reporting from you to the people responsible for your oversight? What information do you want to share, and how much direction or freedom do you prefer in preparing it?
There may be more and better questions. Recorded answers to questions like this would be fantastic for helping to develop a truly good and responsive plan for creating a culture of evidence-based innovation, and possibly a panel of on-the-ground visionaries who can help you vet your evaluation plans before implementing them. Where possible, the goals is to create opportunities and incentives for innovation, make things as standard as possible, and also prevent bureaucratic paperwork if it can be avoided.