Theory E²: Working with Entrepreneurs in Closely-Held Enterprises: XIII. Assessment in the Enterprise Cycle (Part Two)
The first of these two outcome determination questions is “researchable.” We usually can determine whether a specific set of outcomes have been achieved. The second question requires an imposition of values. Hence, it is not “researchable.” We cannot readily answer this question without substantial clarification of organizational intentions—such as I present in Chapter Six of Creating the Appreciative Organization where I describe the process of Organizational Chartering (Bergquist, 2003). Yet, the issue of values and organizational intentions cannot be avoided in the determination of outcomes. [In a later essay in this series I will examine ways in which the second question regarding the value of a program can be handled through use of a tool called Intentional Analysis.] At this point we will explore ways in which the first question regarding achievement of pre-specified outcomes can be addressed.
Determining the Achievement of Pre-specified Outcomes
There are two levels at which a program can be evaluated regarding the achievement of predetermined outcomes. At the first level, one can determine whether the outcomes have been achieved, without any direct concern for the role of the program in achieving these outcomes. This type of outcome-determining evaluation requires only an end-of-program assessment of specific outcomes that have been identified as part of a program planning process.
To the extent that minimally specified levels have been achieved, the program can be said to have been successful; though, of course, other factors may have contributed to, or even been primarily responsible for, the outcomes. If one needs to know specifically if the program contributed to the achievement of those outcomes, then a second set of procedures must be used.
Determining a Program’s Contribution to the Achievement of Pre-specified Outcomes
This type of assessment requires considerably more attention to issues of design and measurement than does an assessment devoted exclusively to the determination of outcomes. In order to show that a specific program contributed to the outcomes that were achieved, a program evaluator should be able to demonstrate a causal connection. For example, the evaluation should show that one or more comparable group of customers, production lines or competitive organizations that were not exposed to the program did not achieved the pre-specified outcomes to the extent achieved by one or more groups that were exposed to the program.