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Performance measurement and me

Friday, April 7, 2017Evangeline Danseco, PhD, CE

I was a nerd growing up. At the family dinner table, I would be one of the first of six kids to finish my dinner and excitedly ask to be excused so I could do my homework. I loved going to the library, even on Sundays. In high school, the students who borrowed the most books that month would be highlighted on the bulletin board. My name would almost always be there.

What is performance measurement?

On a personal level, performance measurement means ongoing learning, checking to see if I am making progress towards my goals and priorities, and what I can do to move forward.

At the Centre, performance measurement in the child and youth mental health context means working with agencies to help them see what’s going well in their agencies. This is where agency staff asks themselves:

  • What services are we doing well?
  • How do the clients experience the services? Do they think they are getting better? Are they really getting better?
  • How are we engaging our community?
  • How are we ensuring that our staff who care for our children and youth, are not getting burnt out and taking care of themselves?
  • What are we doing as an organization to make sure we are financially stable and sustainable?
  • What else can we do doing better?

Think of it this way

Think of a road trip: you have a destination, you have a budget, you have your gear and your map. Sometimes you have kids with you that ask every now and then, “Are we there yet?”

Performance measurement involves having the tools necessary (like a GPS):

  • to check if we are going in the right direction
  • to see how much progress we have made, and
  • to help map out and recalculate changes where needed.

How do I help agencies?

I help lead agencies develop a performance measurement framework for their organization. Lead agencies have certain roles and functions in improving programs and outcomes. They want to see if they are moving in the right direction and see the progress they have made as an organization within their service area.

One of the tools I help agencies develop is a scorecard which is a summary of the key performance indicators they want to focus on and keep track of. Scorecards, dashboards, performance measurement framework, key performance indicators are some of the terms you will hear that relate to performance measurement.

One of the cool things I did recently was to encourage agencies to think about both SMART indicators and WISE indicators. WISE indicators consider the Whole system, are Inspiring, consider the Story and the Synergy among indicators, and are Engaging. Sometimes, it is difficult to summarize our work with a number. The stories and inspiring elements of the work do not surface enough and yet exert a tremendous influence on the organization. So, we try to have space for these WISE indicators that are important but cannot be measured in a traditional way.

My work in the system

In my role, I also work with provincial efforts relating to performance indicators, for example my participation in a technical team that provides advice to MCYS relating to the data attributes of its performance indicators for the business intelligence solution. As part of enhancing the capacity of organizations to collect and use the data from these indicators, I am also leading the data capacity assessment project. We are conducting a baseline of the data capacity strengths and needs among lead agencies, and hope to identify priority areas for improvement.

It takes a team!

Our work is coordinated by knowledge brokers who are connected to each lead agency and service area. They are listening for opportunities to connect our coaches and specialists to those who have questions.

  • Our knowledge brokers help support the implementation of any initiative or evidence-informed practices such as youth engagement and family engagement, the implementation of a new measure such as interRAI or the evaluation of a program.
  • We also work closely with the knowledge brokers to provide training so that key people in the agency or service area are on the same page. For example, we deliver training on Quality 101 that integrates performance measurement and quality improvement. We are planning to develop resources around this as well.
  • At times, we work closely with agencies on a project over several months. In other cases, we provide consultation that are relatively quick, for example a call or site visit to review a current practices or current state.
  • We also work closely with other Centre staff like research assistants and program associates who gather and summarize information from the literature.

Ontario Centre of Excellence for Child and Youth Mental Health

695 Industrial Avenue, Ottawa Ontario, K1G 0Z1
Tel.: 613-737-2297   Fax: 613-738-4894


Please note: We do not provide mental health advice, counselling or treatment.
If you, or if someone you know is in crisis right now, please call the Kids Help Phone at 1-800-668-6868.

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