1.4 Where do we start?

The Short Answer

1. Anywhere leads to everywhere. It doesn’t matter where you start, you will eventually get to everything.

2. Start where people are passionate.

3. Don’t let outsiders tell you where to start. Start where it feels right for your county, city or community.

4. The work can proceed on parallel tracks. Don’t let the work be structured as a long sequence.

5. Get from talk to action as quickly as possible. Make sure there is an action track to turn a curve early in the work.

Full Answer

(1) The most important principle here is to Astart where you are. As Con Hogan of Vermont says: “Anywhere leads to everywhere. (Click here to see Con Hogan’s chart.)  The work is iterative and you can pick up new pieces of the work on the next iterative pass. As long as you eventually get to all or most of the pieces, you can begin anywhere.

(2) Start with what people are passionate about. Create a table to take action to turn a curve. Demonstrate that disciplined thinking can produce results. Then apply that discipline to other areas.

(3) The second important principle is that the work is not linear but should proceed along parallel tracks. Here is a basic action plan that could be used to steer the work.

(4) A more complex and more complete version of this action plan is presented in “A Strategy Map for Results-based Budgeting.” The schematic version of this is given as a tool below. The full paper which describes this chart may be accessed through the Finance Project website.

(5) Not only is the work parallel within a community, city, county or state, it is also parallel between them. That is to say, the work may proceed at each level independent of the others. (See: 1.11 How do we do this if the levels above us (e.g. federal, state, county, city) don’t care and won’t help?): 

(6) The notion of pathways: there is no one right way to do this work. While this paper presents a particular sequence in which to do the work (results – indicators – baselines – story behind the baselines – partners – what works – strategy, action plan and budget), there are in fact many pathways through these steps in the thinking process that are equally workable and effective. The chart below shows the thinking process of results-based decision making and the arrows describe different pathways through this thinking process. (To be developed)

(7) Where data is a particular problem, as is often the case in communities,  the process can follow a pathway where experience and the data development agenda serve as proxies for indicators. In other words, the top of the chart lists the population and results as usual. But the work on indicators yields only an experiential version of the results and a data development agenda. These can be used as proxies for indicators in this way: Ask “What works to produce the experiences we want? What would it take to impact the data development measures if we had them/” While these questions can be used to get started, the obvious problem is that you will not know how to measure progress. There will be no curve to turn.  See 2.9 What do we do if we don’t have any good data at all?

(8) Some starting points for the legislative branch can be found in the “11 Things a Legislature could consider to advance Results-Based Accountability.”

Marc1.4 Where do we start?