Measuring progress now, as we journey towards long term, sustainable change

Logan Together is an experimental initiative trialling innovative ways to address deep and persistent disadvantage and its impact on the developmental pathways of children.

We know from experience that sporadic, ad hoc and short-term investments simply will not solve the problems of entrenched disadvantage and its consequences. We also know what to do: intervene early, focussing on risk and protective factors.

Logan Together’s task is to turn our collective knowledge into action by mobilising the significant resources within the community to reduce risk factors and enhance protective factors in children’s lives. These resources include parents, community leaders, service providers, governments at all levels, private sector organisations and public and private investment.

To do this, we’re using a Collective Impact framework – an evidence-based theory of action for facilitating and achieving large scale social change. It is a structured and disciplined, inventive and adaptive approach to creating cross-sector partnerships that focus on common aspirations for children.

We cannot expect to see results tomorrow, or even the next day. Securing better outcomes for our kids is long-term work.

Collective Impact is about taking the long view. That is, putting in place the necessary pieces – like meaningful engagement in co-design, good policy, service system transformation and smart investment strategies – to achieve long term, sustainable change.

We cannot expect to see results tomorrow, or even the next day. Securing better outcomes for our kids is long-term work. But with our long term goal clearly in our sights, it is important to monitor, measure and report on progress as we go along, allowing us to test, learn, adapt and improve where we can. So if Logan Together is too young for us to measure outcomes just yet, what can we measure to help us understand whether we’re on track?

Ten best practice design principles guide Logan Together, and form the basis of our evaluation:

  1. Mobilization: active participation of cross-sector stakeholders (community, service industry and government) to address social problems
  2. Co-design collective partnerships: creation and support of sustainable, inclusive and balanced cross-sector collective partnerships to engage in co-design of systems, policies, programs and investment strategies
  3. Shared aspirations: common goals emerging from deep and sustained cross-sector conversations
  4. Place-based: activity firmly grounded in place, allowing adaptation to the specific population characteristics and circumstances
  5. Backbone support: facilitation, coordination, deliberation, planning, resourcing and other supports for transformational change
  6.  Governance: processes that support and drive the achievement of shared aspirations and outcomes and ensure accountability to stakeholders
  7. Capability building: strengthen capacity to sustain partnerships, develop leaders and engage in co-design
  8. Program Logic: systematic use of planning models that clearly specify the nature of problems, desired outcomes, theory of change, key strategies and required investments
  9. Game changers: identification and implementation of evidence-based, high leverage strategies, programs, activities and system level redesign
  10. Measurement, evaluation and strategic learning: systems that generate baseline data, track progress and use evaluative thinking to learn quickly and adapt strategies and actions

Logan Together is using a new approach developed to deal with the challenges of innovation in complex environments called Developmental Evaluation (DE).

DE was devised specifically to support social innovation as it is happening. It is characterised by flexibility and adaptability – at all times – holding in balance critical and creative thinking.

In contrast to the ‘arms-length’ stance of traditional evaluators, developmental evaluators are embedded with the projects, initiatives and programs they are evaluating. DE is used on a continuous basis to test new ideas, surface issues, ask critical questions, use data and logic to inform planning, track progress, make sense of what is happening, and make adaptive changes in real time.

DE also allows us to tell an accurate, detailed story of Logan Together’s developmental trajectory; including decisions made, paths followed and roads not taken, responses to emerging opportunities, tensions, contradictions encountered and incremental adjustments.

This evaluation approach makes the developmental process transparent, supporting accountability and flexibility. Importantly, it also generates valuable data for dissemination, learning and replication.