Learning and recommendations

The following section summarises key learning and recommendations to be considered by teams and organisations taking forward outcome focused work.

Clarifying and mapping outcomes

Developing a theory of change and outcome map can be a challenging thing to do. Breaking the process down into manageable steps can really help. Useful activities you can do include:

  • Using a tool like ISM Behaviour Change Tool to understand the context in which you work and how your service is adapted to manage threats and opportunities
  • Ask everyone involved in the initiative ‘what does success look like to you’ and use this as a starting point to map your logic.
  • Capture success stories and use these to understand how your initiative contributes to improved outcomes

Effective outcome maps express what the initiative does and not how it is evidenced. It is important to leave any considerations about what is measurable until after you have clarified your logic.

Capturing data

Because CA is a new approach to evaluation, it is important that teams understand this approach to evaluation and why it is a robust way to evaluate personal outcomes approaches. It is also important to share this information more widely across an organisation so that strategic leads, information specialists etc are confident in and comfortable with the approach.

Putting the approach into practice requires practitioners and managers to adapt their practice to:

  • Capture different kinds of data
  • Build in systematic processes of reflection, analysis and learning

Engaging people at an early stage in the process is important and leads to high level of commitment to the process.

Telling the story of the difference taking a personal outcomes approach makes involves bringing together qualitative and quantitative information. Ideally this would involve a mix of numerical data and more qualitative insights from a sample of records. The experience in Midlothian found that review of 30 case notes out of 800+ people being supported was enough to develop a clear and consistent picture of what was going on for those supported. This was further supported by insights from practitioners and primary care teams captured through reflective practice and action learning sessions. The following table summarises how Midlothian brought together quantitative data with a series of questions that they asked of their qualitative data to develop a robust and meaningful evidence base for their work.

  • Possible sources of qualitative and quantitative evidence

Embed a process of learning, reflection, discussion and adaptation

It is the process of analysis and learning that is the most valuable part of evaluation. There is no point spending time creating outcome maps and developing new data collection processes if the data is not analysed and used for learning and improvement. Therefore, it is important to incorporate analysis, reflection and learning into the plan for this work and when possible to inform these reflections by data and information gathered. It is important to adapt organisational processes to give time and space to engage everyone in these processes of analysis.