I believe I run a very effective office. But it’s not enough to believe it, or even for others to say it, it’s important to be able to measure and demonstrate it with data as well.
The best way to demonstrate effectivess is to measure your office’s results and benchmark those results against competitors. But how do you measure the results of innovation, which is the “field” that I work in, particularly government innovation? Return on Investment (RoI) has been difficult for me to measure logistically due to small sample size issues and time constraints, so I looked to the respected Balanced Scorecard Institute, which conveniently enough has a piece on how to measure innovation on their website.
That piece helped, but it didn’t have a clear answer. It strongly suggested tying everything into an all-encompassing organizational metric called Return on Product Development Expense (RoPDE) and measuring your innovative intiative against the results of your RoPDE. Which basically means, benchmark against your product results, and see if after your “innovation” you are getting better or worse results with your “product.”
Simple enough, but what are my results that I’m trying to measure? What “products” should I be measuring to determine whether my innovation is effective?
The program I manage has a number of products and services that we create for our organization, but the primary one I would say would be the interns that we aim to develop into high-performing employees that our other offices can hire.
Ok, so we found our product, or at least one to start with. The next step then would be deciding which data to track and measure against that we can use as an acceptable external benchmark for that product. For that, I turned to external and widely-used employee surveys for other Federal offices, which would effectively serve as my “competition.” I could then implement one of those surveys in my office and compare my interns against them.
Fortunately, the U.S. Federal Government uses a survey called the Federal Employment Viewpoint Survey (FEVS). This survey asks Federal employees a set of 80 questions about leadership and knowledge management, whether their office has a results-oriented performance culture, effectively manages talent, and their job satisfcation. From this survey comes data used for the Partnership for Public Service’s Best Places to Work in the Federal Government rankings. So by adopting this survey in my program, I can compare the perceptions of my interns to other Federal employees, and if they outperform those metrics, I can then make the argument that my program is producing more effective workers, since more satisfied employees are known to be more productive. It’s not perfect, but I think it can work. And there’s a lot of data that I could use, which solves the hardest part of the equation.
After accomplishing this effort, the next goal of mine would be to measure the work that the interns actually produce compared to their Federal and private sector counterparts. That data however becomes trickier because they work in more than one field, and fields where there isn’t often readily available data that I can easily benchmark against at that. I could group them all under the rubric of “innovation” and attempt to measure that cumulatively, but if we are trying to measure innovation, well, then we’re right back where we started, aren’t we?
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