Activating Your Program's Strategy and Evaluation

John B. Nash, PhD, Associate Professor, Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, Iowa State University


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Overview of Key Points

  • Think in turns of change instead of do
  • First think about what the change is we want....identify the change.
    • Then confirm what it is that we want to do to get that change to occur
  • 9 step model for planning a strand of a strategy-
    • It will help you better understand if the initiative will work.
    • Planning with "balance" in mind
    • Planning within a "strand"
      • Use these steps to plan and evaluate a "chunk" of a program.

The Nine Steps

Step 1-State the change you will make. You should write down a change statement indicating a shift from A to B.
  • Defines where we want to go
  • Allows for a sort of backward mapping
  • Allows a group to ask "where are we?" and then ask "what should we change?"
  • Allows a group to obtain common buy-in for a change.
  • Naming the change first allows you to ensure you don't obtain resources that don't bear on the change.
  • It makes the goal transparent
  • Stay off the "how"--don't focus on how you will meet the goal yet.
  • Naming the "change you will make" helps determine if change is necessary
  • It can help you be more selective when you get to the "how"
  • Stating a goal in terms of a change helps pin down critical behaviors

Change statements are SMART (Specific, Measurable, attainable, realistic, time-based)
  • SPECIFIC: Not vague. No jargon. Others "get it" immediately. No "and". No "or." No "also." No "so that...."
  • MEASURABLE: Worded in a way that you can sense an increase or decrease is sought
  • ATTAINABLE: Make it feasible within a fiscal year or less
  • REALISTIC: Make sure it is realistic
  • TIME-BASED: You know the time period needed to reach the goal

Step 2-State the reason why the change is needed.
  • Convinces stakeholders the change is necessary
  • Help with creating buy in on "how life will be better"
  • Assuage fears of others that the project is worthwhile
  • Shows the problem you are solving in context of everything else
  • Allows a group to create a common vision
  • Creates accountability
  • Makes the goal or changes sought more public and contextual

Step 3-Things you will do
  • Most people start here - you shouldn't. Always start with step 1, "The Change You Will Make."
    • Indicating what you will do is important, but it should not be the first step in a plan
  • Make sure you have balance in your activities--that you only list the things you need to do to trigger the change listed in step 1.
  • Ask yourself: Will the "do" really address the problem?
  • Keep it couched in terms of the goal...it's all about the change you will make.
  • Why wouldn't you want to start with this step?
    • You may choose the wrong things to do.
    • You may develop solutions that are looking for problems.
    • You might get change, but it wasn't the one you hoped for
  • Balancing the things you will do with the specific change you seek helps define what are we not going to do...reduce opportunity costs

Step 4-State the things you need to create the change
  • The "stuff."
  • The items you'll need to complete the steps in column three.

Step 5 - We should not look for change until
  • Don't want to evaluate too quickly
  • Want to know what success looks like
  • Able to hold yourself accountable to the things we will do (3) and the things we need (4)
  • This allows you to state some time period under which you will do you implementation.

Step 6 - Indicators the change has occurred
  • Validate if the goal was reached
  • Challenges in selecting poor indicators
    • unclear
    • unmatched
    • use "easy"/"old" indicators
    • not understandable
    • not agreed upon by stakeholders

Step 7 - The way we'll collect the indicators
  • Indicate the method by which you will collect your indicator data
Step 8 - When we'll collect it
  • Accountability
  • Chief worrier
Step 9 - Who will collect it
  • Accountability
  • Chief worrier