Creating a Results-Driven Culture: PSA Creates Evidence-to-Practice Series

Spurgeon Kennedy, Director, Office of Strategic Development

What is missing in most leadership-related writings and teachings is the lack of attention to results. Most of them focus on organizational capabilities (adaptability, agility, mission-directed, values-based) or on leadership competencies (vision, character, trust and other exemplary attributes, competencies and capabilities). All well and good, but what is seriously missing is the connection between these critical capabilities and results. And this is what results-based leadership is all about: how organizational capabilities and leadership competencies lead to and are connected to desired results.

~ Dave Ulrich, Jack Zenger, and Norm Smallwood (1999). Results-Based Leadership. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Business School Press

PSA is committed to adopting evidence-based, results-oriented principles in all mission critical and work management areas. As a management goal, our 2014-2018 Strategic Plan includes maintaining a results-driven culture that emphasizes customer satisfaction with Agency performance and products, employee satisfaction and performance, and measurable outcome and performance targets.

To help meet this goal, PSA’s Office of Strategic Development (OSD) created the Evidence-to-Practice Series which showcases a particular evidence-based operational or management practice through a set of lectures by leading authorities in that area. Each lecture builds upon the evidence-based theme and “lessons learned” from the previous presenter. Lecturers also have follow-up sessions with office and program area management to provide targeted feedback and recommend best approaches and measurable “next steps” to implement ideas from the original lecture.

The 2013 Evidence-to-Practice Series centered on linking outcome and performance measurement to achieving essential organizational results. The objective was to enhance our understanding of the value of performance measurement and management and to support our efforts to use data for performance improvement and decision-making. 

Lecture I: Performance Measurement and its Influence on Culture, Leadership, and Decision-Making
Lecturer: Ted Kniker, Executive Director, Performance Institute

With over 20 years in federal government and a former executive consultant with the Federal Consulting Group (FCG), Ted Knicker is recognized as an expert in developing internal evaluation and monitoring capabilities and creating performance metrics and program evaluation for hard to measure programs. His lecture described how organizational leadership and fostering a “measurement culture” go hand-in-hand in achieving results. Mr. Knicker outlined the desired link between measurement and communication and stressed that embracing this relationship is the foundation for all high-performing organizations.

Lecture II: Performance Measurement: A Systems Approach to Government, Drugs, and Crime
Lecturer: Dr. John Carnevale, President of Carnevale Associates

An internationally recognized expert in the field of drug policy, Dr. Carnevale offers public policy guidance to governments, organizations, and communities as they confront the public policy and program challenges of the 21st century. He is recognized as the key architect of the Performance Measures of Effectiveness (PME) System which the Office of National Drug Control Policy used to determine progress towards national goals and objectives.

Dr. Carnevale described a “systems approach” that includes stakeholder input, clear strategic initiatives, budgets that complemented strategic initiatives, evaluation as part of an agency’s “feedback mechanism” and logic modeling to show the link of inputs and outputs to outcomes and results. The highlight of the lecture was an interactive critique of PSA’s mission and vision statement in which Dr. Carnevale suggested several potential improvements to both documents. He stressed the importance of these statements, noting that “if staff doesn’t know your mission statement, you don’t have one!”

Lecture III: A Holistic and Systemic Approach to Performance Measurement and Evaluation
Lecturer: Dr. Kathy Newcomer, Director of the Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration at the George Washington University

Dr. Newcomer teaches public and nonprofit program evaluation, research design, and applied statistics. She routinely conducts research and training for federal and local government agencies and nonprofit organizations on performance measurement and program evaluation, and has designed and conducted evaluations for several U.S. federal agencies and many nonprofit organizations. She has also published five books on performance measurement and numerous journal articles. Dr. Newcomer’s presentation focused on how high-functioning organizations treat evaluation as a management imperative used strategically and holistically to inform policy and decision-making. She stressed how identification of needed evaluation should begin with an agency’s desired outcomes (for example, enhanced organizational learning or improved government performance) and how leadership’s consistent support and use of measurement and evaluation is key to weaving these functions into agency culture. Dr. Newcomer ended her presentation with examples of logic modeling and a recommendation that PSA institute this practice to identify truly mission-critical activities.

Lecture IV: Enhancing Performance Measurement and Evaluation in Treatment and Criminal Justice
Lecturer: Dr. Doug Marlowe, Chief of Science, Law and Policy at the National Association of Drug Court Professionals

Dr. Marlowe has been a pioneer over the past decade in translating research findings into useful and understandable practice and policy, addressing legal issues facing the drug court model. He is also an Adjunct Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania, School of Medicine and the Former Director of the division of Law and Ethics research at the Treatment Research Institute. His lecture described the latest trends in outcome and performance measurement in the substance abuse and mental health fields and the lessons criminal justice professions can learn from these efforts.

Input from the Evidence-to-Practice Series already has helped PSA management revise our mission statement (To promote pretrial justice and enhance community safety) to highlight pretrial justice as a core Agency ideal and to present the mission to stakeholders in simpler language. Lecturers helped management institute the “mantra” to “do the right thing and do it well.” Drs. Carnevale and Newcomer also worked closely with individual offices and program areas to create logic models that identify essential resources and activities related to PSA’s mission and vision. These models will allow office and program directors to highlight mission-critical functions and activities for needed funding and support.

OSD is proud to make the Evidence-to-Practice Series a part of PSA’s results-driven culture. We look forward to continuing the series next year with new topics and lecturers and hope all Agency staff take advantage of this learning opportunity.