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Episode 61: Know if Change is Working or Not

podcast Mar 14, 2023

If you are changing something and you want to know if it's working or not, the place to start is making sure the target that you’re aiming for is clear. Without that clarity, you can't know if you’re hitting it or not. With that clarity, you can notice the clues that tell you you’re on the right track. 

How do I know if an idea for improving our program is working or not? We've got some great testimonials, but that's about it. What else should we be looking for?

Get Clear On The Target

If the target is too big, it’s hard to collect data so we tend to focus on stories. You can’t adapt and make changes if you only focus on stories. Objective measures are needed to know if your target is actually the right target. 

If it’s too narrow, then you only look in one place, one data set: the number of participants or attendance. If you do that then you might miss some of the other clues that your change is having an impact. 

Beyond The Testimony

Program outcomes are sometimes harder to measure because they are less tangible than say profits or number of sales or something easier to capture. That shouldn’t stop us from trying. Let’s make it simple and talk about the words you use.

Verb: If you are making a change to your program, then you should be using a verb, right? Verb is action – you are doing something, taking some sort of action that will have a different result. So, what’s your verb?

Noun: Once you have your verb, then think about your noun. Who or what will be affected by the change? Find your WHO will need to make change and WHO will benefit from the change. Then, identify a NOUN that describes the WHAT. What behaviors will change in either the participants or the program leaders to reach your target? 

What To Measure

You can start with testimonies and stories you’re hearing and even proactively collect them with targeted questions that help you see if the change is working. Then, add some other objective measures:

  • It might be financial measures like cost or cost savings or revenue generation.
  • It might be more outcomes based, like activity or satisfaction data
  • It could also be that pre-data and post data comparison over time 
  • You could also tract participation or even retention over time

Any of these measures add more nuance to the testimonies and stories you collect. All of those things together can help you know if your idea is working or not.           

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