How Do You Know If You Are Making a Difference?

A Practical Handbook for Public Service Organisations

By Sarah Morton and Ailsa Cook

Published

Nov 2, 2022

Page count

160 pages

ISBN

978-1447361930

Dimensions

216 x 138 mm

Imprint

Policy Press

Published

Nov 2, 2022

Page count

160 pages

ISBN

978-1447361947

Dimensions

Imprint

Policy Press
How Do You Know If You Are Making a Difference?

Why is it hard to know if you are making a difference in public services? What can you do about it?

Public services throughout the world face the challenge of tackling complex issues where multiple factors influence change. This book sets out practical and theoretically robust, tried and tested approaches to understanding and tracking change that any organisation can use to ensure it makes a difference to the people it cares about.

With case studies from health, community, research, international development and social care, this book shows that with the right tools and techniques, public services can track their contribution to social change and become more efficient and effective.

Sarah Morton is Director and Co-Founder of Matter of Focus and Honorary Fellow at the University of Edinburgh. She has been at the forefront of the emerging field of knowledge mobilisation over the last 25 years and has pioneered research impact assessment methods that are used internationally. She has a PhD in Social Policy, has worked in the third and public sectors, and held several posts at the University of Edinburgh including Director of Knowledge Exchange at the Usher Institute.

Ailsa Cook is Director and Co-Founder of Matter of Focus. Ailsa is a leader in the field of outcomes. Through her research and work with policy and practice, Ailsa has made a significant contribution to shifting the focus of public services in Scotland towards the outcomes that are important to citizens and communities. She is co-originator of the Talking Points Personal Outcomes approach, now used across 1000’s of organisations internationally. She has a PhD in Sociology and Social Policy and before setting up Matter of Focus was Senior Lecturer at the University of Edinburgh.

1. Why Is It so Hard to Know If You Are Making a Difference?

2. Why Complexity Thinking Can Help Understand Public Services

3. What Data and Evidence Do You Need to See What Difference You Are Making?

4. Owning Your Initiative’s Outcomes and Impacts

5. Embrace the Complex Context

6. Clarify the Change You Want to See

7. Get Going on Your Data, Evidence and Feedback Improvement Journey

8. Tracking Progress Towards Outcomes and Impacts

9. Telling the Story of the Difference Your Work Makes

10. Using This Approach in Different Contexts and Sectors

11. Becoming an Outcome and Impact-focused Organization