Reconstructing a Community – How the DoView Visual Planning methodology could be used

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Please check for the most up-to-date version of this article at https://outcomestheory.wordpress.com/2012/03/25/297/
 

Summary

The Canterbury region in New Zealand is currently being reconstructed following two major earthquakes in 2010 and 2011. In response a Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA) has been set up by the New Zealand government. This provides an example of a community needing to be reconstructed on a number of levels. In such instances of social reconstruction, which arise from natural disasters and other causes, it is important that productive discussions are facilitated at various levels about the goals and coordination of the reconstruction. The key issues which need to be addressed are: 1. the involvement of stakeholders in major decisions regarding the reconstruction rather than it being dominated by national authorities; 2. determining the best practical tool/process for underpinning the high-level strategic direction discussions at various levels; and, 3. how gaps and overlaps between the multiple projects being undertaken by multiple parties (both from within the location being reconstructed and from outside of it) can be identified either for the reconstruction as a whole, or for certain sectors and sub-areas within the reconstruction. The DoView® Visual Planning process is a visually based tool/process which could potentially be used to ensure that discussions about the direction and priorities for reconstruction are undertaken in a way that facilitates clear strategic thinking. It could be considered for use in reconstruction processes at various levels, for instance at a high community-wide level, or more specifically in regard to service provision for particular sectors within the community which is being reconstructed. More information about DoView Visual Planning at http://doview.com/plan and DoView Visual Sector planning at http://doview.com/plan/sector.html.

Introduction

The Canterbury region in New Zealand is currently being reconstructed following dual major earthquakes in 2010 and 2011. A Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA) has been set up by the New Zealand government. There are a number of issues which arise in regard to facilitating a constructive discussion about strategic direction at various levels about the reconstruction and its coordination. If managed well this process could result in a renaissance rather than just a recovery for Canterbury. If the discussion about strategic direction and priorities is handled badly it could lead to a lack of coordination and insufficient clarity about overall strategic direction. This article uses the case of the Canterbury reconstruction as an example of how one aspect of such a reconstruction, the coordination of strategic direction and priorities discussions at various levels, could be assisted through the use of a new visual tool for facilitating such discussions. It is not particularly directed at the Canterbury case, it is just using it as an example of how the tool could add value in situations where communities need to be reconstructed at various levels following natural or other disasters.

How will strategic direction and priorities discussions take place?

There are obviously many issues which need to be addressed in reconstructing a community. This article is focused on a limited, but important, aspect of the work of reconstruction. This is the issue of finding the best and most accessible tool/process for underpinning the strategic discussions amongst parties about the strategic direction of, and priorities for, the reconstruction. It should be noted that this article does not focus on various methodologies for community engagement of the citizens (dialogue or other processes) in the reconstruction of their community, nor does it focus on project planning methodologies and software for actually ‘doing the work’ of reconstruction. Rather than focusing on these areas, the article suggests a new way of undertaking just those aspects of the reconstruction process which are related to discussion about the strategic direction and priorities for reconstruction at various levels (e.g. overall strategic directions, reconstruction in various sectors, reconstruction and government services, localities etc.). The approach suggested in this article could be used regardless of what community engagement approach is selected for use and no matter what specific project planning methodology is used to coordinate the detailed implementation of the reconstruction.

The essence of the approach outlined in this article is its focus on determining the outcomes and priorities for reconstruction at various levels and the mix of projects which will achieve these rather than detailed planning of projects once they have been selected as priority projects (whether this be at an overall level, or for specific sectors, government services etc.)

The new way of working proposed in this article has grown out of theoretical work by the author in the area of how to deal with the identification, prioritisation and achievement of outcomes at a national, regional, sector, or organizational level (http://www.outcomestheory.org). The new approach is based on the use of a visual approach to identifying outcomes and the steps which it is believed will lead to them and then mapping possible projects onto this visual model in order to identify gaps and overlaps and lastly mapping the different organizations responsible for each project.

In essence it is suggested here that instead of the traditional approach to structuring strategic and prioritisation discussions (the use of long textual and tables-based documents), that a new visual strategic planning approach should be considered. This approach – the DoView Visual Planning methodology – is based on building a visual model of the outcomes being sought in the reconstruction and the steps required to achieve them. The visual DoView plan is then used to both prioritise the steps and outcomes which will be sought initially and to show visual ‘line-of-sight’ between the projects being implemented and the priorities on the visual model. (Note the approach has previously been called Easy Outcomes and Duignan’s Outcomes-Focused Visual Strategic Planning Process). More information on the approach is available at http://doview.com/plan and on its use for whole sector planning at http://doview.com/plan/sector.html.

The traditional approach to organizing community reconstruction

In cases of community reconstruction, various committees and forums are set up (e.g. the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Community Forum) for coordinating the reconstruction and having strategic discussions about goals and priorities. In the traditional approach, these types of discussions generally consist of the following:

  1. Verbal discussions amongst the parties about the direction the reconstruction should go in. These may or may not be informed by various consultation and dialogue processes with the community.
  2. Text-based summaries of these discussions and some conclusions about priorities.
  3. Tables setting out all of the projects which are being undertaken and some sort of attempt to link these projects with the text-based summaries in 2 above (e.g. through textual summaries of the ‘objectives’ of each project).
  4. Various more PR-orientated publications summarizing such planning at various levels.
  5. Standard project management software and systems at the level of managing the projects. 
This paper is only focused on providing a tool and approach which could improve stages 2 and 3 of this process.

The problem with the traditional way of conducting such strategic discussions

The traditional way of conducting processes 2 and 3 above (summarizing the discussion about objectives and priorities and ensuring that projects focus on these) is to write long notes of meetings and to use various, sometimes glossy, text-based plans which set out the strategic direction and at a lower level the projects which will be focused on achieving this strategic direction. The documentation ends up including many documents and multiple extensive tables listing the various projects which it is believed will contribute to priorities.
The problem with this traditional approach is that text-and-table based approaches, while they may look good, are from an information processing point of view, almost impossible for most readers to clearly and quickly overview.

A picture is worth a thousand words

In contrast to the traditional approach which largely relies on text-and-tables to organise thinking about objectives and priorities, the DoView Visual Planning visual strategic planning process takes an entirely different approach which is based on the the well known saying that ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’. This saying is consistent with the push in all sectors and disciplines for the increased use of data visualisation in order to communicate and analyse a wide range of issues and topics.

How the DoView Visual Planning  approach could potentially be used for community reconstruction

The DoView Visual Planning approach could be used in cases of community reconstruction in various ways:

  1. Some of the discussions about the objectives and outcomes for the Canterbury reconstruction (for instance the overall objectives, those for a sector, those for government agencies, those for a locality) could take place against an ‘Outcomes DoView’ – a visual model of all of the outcomes that are being sought for a region, a sector etc. and the steps it is believed are needed to get to them.
  2. Priorities could be set visually onto the Outcomes DoView (by marking the boxes in the model up A, B, C, etc.). This immediately makes transparent the priorities for the reconstruction.
  3. Projects and activities being undertaken could be mapped back onto the DoView Outcomes DoView. This immediately shows if there is sufficient emphasis in the activity being placed on the outcomes for the reconstruction (the ones prioritised in 2 above). It also immediately reveals gaps and overlaps in the patter of projects and activities being undertaken.
  4. In addition, DoView Outcomes DoViews which are built to facilitate strategic discussions and priority setting can be used for a range of other purposes (identifying performance indicators to track progress and possible evaluation projects to look at the impact of the activity which is taking place).

Advantages of the approach

Reconstructing a community is a potentially highly complex process which involves many parties with potentially different views on the direction and priorities for reconstruction.

  1. There is a major risk that the voices of the community are lost in the babble of ‘policy speak’ from central government when involved in such community reconstruction work. The traditional tools national bureaucrats use for planning – long text-based policy documents and endless tables setting out details of projects – often provide an impermeable barrier for local communities and busy local stakeholders wanting  to quickly get on top of strategic priority decision-making. Local people, particularly in the middle of a major reconstruction effort, do not have the time to penetrate long text-based documents. 
  2. The visual strategic planning approach used in DoView Visual Planning provides a much more transparent and accessible format for community representatives and other stakeholders at various levels to discuss priorities, gaps and overlaps in the reconstruction process. This is because it uses the power of visualisation to quickly provide an overview of priorities and projects. 
  3. If local communities and stakeholders at various levels and in various sectors are to have effective input at the policy table, the tool used for discussion of high-level strategies and priorities at that table needs to be one which is easy for all parties to engage in and directly ‘see’ the priorities which are being set and whether or not there is a connection (line-of-sight) between what is being done on the ground and the priority outcomes which are being sought.

Example

The following is an example poster from the use of the methodology on a multi-departmental, multi-project initiative. The top colored part of the diagram shows the outcomes which are being sought. The lower grey list of boxes is a list of projects which are being undertaken. At the bottom is the list of government departments which are running each of the projects.
This is just an overview poster of the Outcomes DoView. It is modeled in the new DoView outcomes software and the various relationships between projects and outcomes can be accessed in various ways within DoView. Unlike much other software, DoView has been specifically designed to be used in real-time in front of groups when planning and discussing priorities, gaps, overlaps and coordination. The visual model can be communicated as posters, letter-sized PDFs and web page models created by DoView as well as using the Outcomes DoView  in real-time in front of planning and other groups.

Where DoView Visual Planning is currently being used

The DoView Visual Planning approach (under the names Easy Outcomes and Duignan’s Outcomes-Focused Visual Strategic Planning Process) is being used in a wide variety of sectors by public and not-for-profit organisations in New Zealand and internationally in the case of some projects.

Resources

Resources for using the DoView Visual Planning approach can be obtained from http://doview.com/plan and for the use of the DoView Visual Sector Planning approach from http://doview.com/plan/sector.html.

Conclusion

The DoView Visual Planning methodology is a new entirely visually-based approach to undertaking high-level strategic discussions and is potentially applicable to cases of community reconstruction following natural or other disasters. It could be used at various levels, for instance, at the overview level of high-level outcomes for a region. It could also be used at various other levels, e.g. for a sector, government services, local-government services, aspects of planning for a locality, or even for planning for an individual organization involved in the community reconstruction work.
Citing this article: Duignan, P. (2011). Reconstructing a Community – How the DoView Visual Planning planning methodology could be used. Outcomes Theory Knowledge Base Article No. 297. https://outcomestheory.wordpress.com/2012/03/25/297/.
First posted on Knol 4 April 2011.
  1. The building-blocks/types of evidence used in outcomes systems (Redirect)
  2. Types of claims able to be made regarding outcomes models (intervention logics/theories of change) (Redirect)
  3. Reconstructing a Community – How the DoView Visual Planning methodology could be used (Redirect)
  4. Simplifying terms used when working with outcomes (Redirect)
  5. Impact evaluation – where it should and should not be used (Redirect)
  6. Types of economic evaluation analysis (Redirect)
  7. Unequal inputs principle (‘level playing field’) principle
  8. Welcome to the Outcomes Theory Knowledge Base
  9. Organizational Requirements When Implementing the Duignan Approach Using DoView Within an Organization
  10. M & E systems – How to build an affordable simple monitoring and evaluation system using a visual approach
  11. Evaluation of Healthcare Information for All 2015 (HIFA2015) using a DoView visual evaluation plan and Duignan’s Visual Evaluation Planning Method
  12. DoView Results Roadmap Methodology
  13. Problems faced when monitoring and evaluating programs which are themselves assessment systems
  14. Reviewing a list of performance indicators
  15. Using visual DoView Results Roadmaps™ when working with individuals and families
  16. Proving that preventive public health works – using a visual results planning approach to communicate the benefits of investing in preventive public health
  17. Where outcomes theory is being used
  18. How a not-for-profit community organization can transition to being outcomes-focused and results-based – A case study
  19. Duignan’s Outcomes-Focused Visual Strategic Planning for Public and Third Sector Organizations
  20. Impact/outcome evaluation design types
  21. Introduction to outcomes theory
  22. Contracting for outcomes
  23. How a Sector can Assist Multiple Organizations to Implement the Duignan Outcomes-Focused Visual Strategic Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation Approach
  24. How community-based mental health organizations can become results-based and outcomes-focused
  25. Paul Duignan PhD Curriculum Vitae
  26. Integrating government organization statutory performance reporting with demands for evaluation of outcomes and ‘impacts’
  27. Non-output attributable intermediate outcome paradox
  28. Features of steps and outcomes appearing within outcomes models
  29. Principle: Three options for specifying accountability (contracting/delegation) when controllable indicators do not reach a long way up the outcomes model
  30. Outcomes theory diagrams
  31. Indicators – why they should be mapped onto a visual outcomes model
  32. What are Outcomes Models (Program logic models)?
  33. Methods and analysis techniques for information collection
  34. What are outcomes systems?
  35. The problem with SMART objectives – Why you have to consider unmeasurable outcomes
  36. Encouraging better evaluation design and use through a standardized approach to evaluation planning and implementation – Easy Outcomes
  37. New Zealand public sector management system – an analysis
  38. Using Duignan’s outcomes-focused visual strategic planning as a basis for Performance Improvement Framework (PIF) assessments in the New Zealand public sector
  39. Working with outcomes structures and outcomes models
  40. Using the ‘Promoting the Use of Evaluation Within a Country DoView Outcomes Model’
  41. What added value can evaluators bring to governance, development and progress through policy-making? The role of large visualized outcomes models in policy making
  42. Real world examples of how to use seriously large outcomes models (logic models) in evaluation, public sector strategic planning and shared outcomes work
  43. Monitoring, accountability and evaluation of welfare and social sector policy and reform
  44. Results-based management using the Systematic Outcomes Management / Easy Outcomes Process
  45. The evolution of logic models (theories of change) as used within evaluation
  46. Trade-off between demonstrating attribution and encouraging collaboration
  47. Impact/outcome evaluation designs and techniques illustrated with a simple example
  48. Implications of an exclusive focus on impact evaluation in ‘what works’ evidence-based practice systems
  49. Single list of indicators problem
  50. Outcomes theory: A list of outcomes theory articles
  51. Standards for drawing outcomes models
  52. Causal models – how to structure, represent and communicate them
  53. Conventions for visualizing outcomes models (program logic models)
  54. Using a generic outcomes model to implement similar programs in a number of countries, districts, organizational or sector units
  55. Using outcomes theory to solve important conceptual and practical problems in evaluation, monitoring and performance management
  56. Free-form visual outcomes models versus output, intermediate and final outcome ‘layered’ models
  57. Key outcomes, results management and evaluation resources
  58. Outcomes systems – checklist for analysis
  59. Having a common outcomes model underpinning multiple organizational activities
  60. What is best practice?
  61. Best practice representation and dissemination using visual outcomes models
  62. Action research: Using an outcomes modeling approach
  63. Evaluation questions – why they should be mapped onto a visual outcomes model
  64. Overly-simplistic approaches to outcomes, monitoring and evaluation work
  65. Evaluation types: Formative/developmental, process and impact/outcome
  66. Terminology in evaluation: Approaches, types (purposes), methods, analysis techniques and designs
  67. United Nations Results-Based Management System – An analysis
  68. Selecting impact/outcome evaluation designs: a decision-making table and checklist approach
  69. Definitions used in outcomes theory
  70. Balanced Scorecard and Strategy Maps – an analysis
  71. The error of limiting focus to only the attributable
  72. Reframing program evaluation as part of collecting strategic information for sector decision-making
  73. Distinguishing evaluation from other processes (e.g. monitoring, performance management, assessment, quality assurance)
  74. Full roll-out impact/outcome evaluation versus piloting impact/outcome evaluation plus best practice monitoring
  75. References to outcomes theory
  76. Techniques for improving constructed matched comparison group impact/outcome evaluation designs
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