|Valuing outcomes: Does it really matter?|
|by Stephanie Robertson, President, SiMPACT Strategy Group|
|on March 04, 2013|
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So many organizations are still challenged to measure outcomes. Despite much interest, activity and outputs-based evaluation remains the norm. Knowing this, does encouraging the next step, i.e. valuing outcomes in financial terms, really seem like the right thing to do?
To the first point, many colleagues speak of the challenge of writing a digestible, measurable, outcome report that reflects desired change. Not to mention the design of evaluation tools that effectively measure whether an outcome has been achieved. If laying the foundation to value outcomes in financial terms (i.e. writing a clear outcome statement, designing outcome-based evaluation tools) remains such a challenge, is even thinking about assign financial value to outcomes worth the effort?
Well…yes and no.
Your stakeholder's voice matters
On the "No" side, if the approach taken only reflects certain stakeholder perspectives, and therefore has the potential to be one-sided or missing material value1, then valuing outcomes in financial terms may not be the most effective next step. Often, material value is missing when the experience or voice of a key stakeholder has not been included in the analysis.
The absence of the "voice" of a key stakeholder will simply reproduce results that have been seen before, i.e. present value in relation to the investor’s perspective only. An end result that is similarly one-sided will be less likely to contribute to effectiveness or increased effectiveness, which is a missed opportunity for the investor. Why? Because value that includes all material perspectives ensures that the value each recipient needs to experience in order for the investment to produce results, is understood, and therefore, more achievable and routinely delivered.
Valuing outcomes in financial terms is simply a bad idea when there is too much emphasis upon financial value and too little focus on the whole value story. For example, if an investment results in a move into employment, one element of financial value would be the wage earned. But that investment could also be contributing to other things, for example the confidence to seek employment. In the absence of confidence, the employment would not happen. Without confidence, there is no value creation.