Results-Based Accountability™ Advice



  How do we fit together different approaches when there is more than one approach to Results-Based Accountability being used in my area?

The Short Answer

1. Use a cross walk to let people see how different frameworks are related.  While terminology and structure may vary, most approaches are actually trying to accomplish the same thing and differ principally in the labels used for ideas and .   


2. The crosswalk tool presented in this guide can be used to:

  • Defuse tension and let people see how their work fits together.

  • Analyze different frameworks for completeness, and add missing components

  • Merge approaches, although one must be careful not to create a hybrid that is worse than either parent.



Full Answer


(1) The words "result" and "outcome" are now commonly used in many different efforts and many different publications. These words are often used without any discipline about their meaning or the larger framework into which they fit.


(2) There are many different published approaches and efforts under way in the area of Results-Based Accountability. It is not uncommon for more than one to be actively used in the same state, county, city or community. Most frameworks that are being used address only program or agency performance. A few have tried to address both population results and program performance, but most of these have fallen prey to the trap that there is a linear  relationship between population and performance accountability  (e.g. The result "healthy children" is the responsibility of the Health Department; the result "safe communities" is the responsibility of the police department.) (TX, NC)


One way to help bring these efforts together is to use a cross walk to let people see how they are related. Much of the best work in this field is headed in the same direction. While terminology and structure may vary, the different approaches are actually trying to accomplish much the same thing. This work is “convergent."  


(3) A crosswalk is a tool that shows how the elements of a framework and the words that label them are related. The oldest version of a crosswalk is the Rosetta Stone which crosses Egyptian Hieroglyphics with Greek and Latin. A version of this  is shown in the attached Language Menu chart.  More sophisticated crosswalks allow the direct comparison of not just language but ideas and thinking processes. The attached Crosswalk Tool arrays the framework thinking process used in this guide down the left side of the page. This shows population accountability at the top of the page and performance accountability at the bottom, and the sequence of steps in each thinking process. Two blank columns are provided to the right. The far right column is used to show the corresponding terminology and thinking process from another framework. Each entry is the term used in the alternative framework which corresponds to the concept/term on the left. The middle column is a space where examples could be shown. One completed form is provided which crosswalks Results-Based Accountability to the Logic Model used by the United Way for performance measurement. 


You can use these crosswalks in a number of different ways. 

Blank Crosswalk

Crosswalk to Logic Model / United Way

4 Quadrant link to Other Performance Measurement Terms


(a) To help allow different frameworks to coexist and defuse tension between different approaches. The cross walks can make the point that the work we are trying to do is basically the same and here's how they relate to one another. There is no need for you to stop doing what you're doing. (Although we may both learn something from each other about how to do it better.)


(b) To analyze differences between two frameworks. It is possible to see where one framework is more complete than another or uses a different thinking process for the same set of ideas. For example, the logic model thinking process works up the page (from inputs to process to outputs to outcomes) while the results and performance framework works down the page (from clients to client outcomes to baselines, what works and an action plan and budget). It is possible to see that most frameworks in current use address only performance accountability and not population accountability; and that some logic model frameworks leave out upper right quadrant performance measures which address things like timeliness, staff turnover, and cultural competence of services. This kind of analysis could be used to make these other frameworks more complete. 


(c) To help merge different approaches for a state, county, city or community. It would be possible using this crosswalk to agree on a common thinking process and set of terminology that bridges two different approaches. The caution here is that you don't produce a "transporter accident." One must be careful not to create a hybrid that is worse than either parent. The resulting framework must be conceptually clear and coherent. For example, it would be possible for agencies and programs to use the logic model thinking process to develop client outcomes (instead of the 4 quadrant method) and then pick up with the performance accountability thinking process from client outcomes to baselines, to partners, what works and an action plan and budget.







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