If you’re new to Clear Impact Scorecard or thinking about becoming a user, understanding the thinking behind the tool will help you create clear, organized Scorecards that effectively communicate your efforts and progress.
Clear Impact Scorecard is built using Results-Based Accountability (RBA) methodology. RBA is a decision-making framework used by organizations, agencies, and communities around the world to measure the performance of their programs and services, measure their impact on community well-being, and solve complex social problems. RBA is a popular framework for social change in the public sector because it emphasizes the use of data AND context to make effective decisions, gets you from talk to action quickly, is easy to understand and follow relative to other frameworks, and is actually leading to measurable results in community wellbeing (you can check out our case studies, RBA Success Stories Library, or books for a sampling of these successes).
Below, we will describe the two most important ideas presented in RBA and how the Clear Impact Scorecard is uniquely positioned to support these ideas.
Idea 1: There are two kinds of accountability.
The population accountability versus performance accountability distinction is what separates RBA from all other frameworks. It is important to understand because it determines who is responsible for what. Population accountability organizes our work with co-equal partners to promote community well-being. No one person, organization, or agency can be held responsible for the well-being of entire communities; this is why we must engage in partnerships to improve conditions of wellbeing at the population level. In contrast, Performance Accountability organizes our work to have the greatest impact on the people we serve through our programming (our “customers”). Performance accountability and population accountability are connected – what we do for our customers is our contribution to community impact.
We should use two different types of measures to evaluate our progress at each level of accountability. You can call them whatever you want, but in RBA we use “Indicators” to describe measures that gauge conditions of community wellbeing and “Performance Measures” to describe measures that gauge the quality and impact of our programs and services. In the software, the basic structure of a Scorecard is designed to help you maintain the distinction between both types of accountability, organize your measures appropriately, and communicate the connection between your programmatic efforts and community-level strategy. It does this by allowing you to organize measures in a nested fashion under the appropriate category.
For example, in the figure below, you can see a real Scorecard that organizes education-related strategies and measures into the appropriate levels. At the top, you can see the overarching community-level goal: “All youth are ready for college, work, and life.” Underneath are the Indicators (yellow “I” icons) used to measure achievement of that goal, eg. “Percent of youth that graduate from high school.” Now, look below and notice the Program (blue “P” icon) that falls underneath the population-level goals and indicators. As a part of their contribution to school readiness and success, the organization that created this scorecard identified a strategy and accompanying performance measures (orange “PM” icons) that they are taking responsibility for. Notice how the structure of this scorecard can help facilitate internal and external communication for this organization – “As a community, we are all responsible for improving the Indicators in Yellow. Our organization’s contribution to improving the Indicators can be seen below.”
Another cool thing about Clear Impact Scorecard is that you can take a more detailed look at your measures while still being able to view the Scorecard in its entirety. If you click on the little grey plus signs on the left of each measure, a graph will pop up. When you’re done, you can just close the graph and go back to the original view. Or, to get an even more detailed look at your performance, you can click on a measure and go to that measure’s “Turn the Curve” page…..
Idea 2: Your performance management software should help you improve your performance, not just analyze it.
The hallmark process of RBA is the “Turn the Curve” decision-making process. Turn the Curve thinking is a set of 5 core steps, presented as simple questions, to help you understand the story behind your performance and then collaborate on developing strategies to improve. When we achieve an improvement in the data we say there has been a “turn in the curve.” The Turn the Curve process is exactly the same for Indicators and Performance Measures. See below for a summary of this process.
- What’s the current status of the data/metric? – Graph the data baseline, including history, current status, and forecast of the data if nothing were to be done differently
- What’s the story behind the data? – What are the contributing and limiting factors that have contributed to the current status of the data? What are cyclical factors?
- Who are partners that have a role to play? – List the partners that have a role to play in improving the data.
- What works to improve? – What are strategies that have worked in the past or in other communities? What does research show are effective solutions? What are our best guesses as to what would work? Be sure to list no-cost and low-cost solutions here.
- What are we going to do? – Develop an action plan that is based on your what works strategies. Make sure you assign specific tasks to specific people/organizations with due-dates.
- Start Over – The Turn the Curve process is iterative – our work to improve our communities or programmatic performance is never done. Continually assess your metrics, update the story, and assess whether your strategies are having the desired result. Make changes where necessary.
So what does this have to do with Scorecard? Scorecard doesn’t just display your data, it actually helps you improve your metrics utilizing the Turn the Curve process. Remember earlier when we said you could click on a measure to bring you to that measure’s Turn the Curve page? Well, this is exactly what you’ll be doing on that page. In the Scorecard, when you go to the Turn the Curve view for a measure, you can enter notes and information underneath the measure as you go through the Turn the Curve process. As you change your notes over time, we keep all the old ones in an archive so that you can look at your note history during analysis. When it’s time to create your action-plan Scorecard also gives you the ability to assign actions to specific staff members with due dates.
Check out the example below to see what the Turn the Curve page looks like in the Scorecard.
Want to know something awesome? You don’t have to be an RBA expert to get started with the Scorecard! When you purchase the Scorecard, we give you access to free tutorials that show you how to create effective, organized measures and how to improve those measures using the Turn the Curve process.
If you would like to learn more about RBA, you’re in the right place! We’ve got tons of resources to help you get up to speed and on the fast track to success. Check out our short Results-Based Accountability description, Results-Based Accountability guide, or head over to our success stories library to see how other communities and organizations are using the framework to improve their performance and impact.
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