Results that Matter: Improving Communities by Engaging Citizens, Measuring Performance, and Getting Things Done / Edition 1

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Praise for Results That Matter

"Results That Matter adds real substance to the discussion of how government can deliver the results citizens want at a price they are willing to pay.? For citizen activists, public sector leaders, and managers alike, it provides valuable lessons and examples they can use as they continue to push the envelope of results-based governance."
–David Osborne, coauthor, The Price of Government and Reinventing Government and senior partner at the Public Strategies Group

"Results That Matter provides concrete teaching tools for nonprofit developers, local governments, residents, or anyone else working to build strong and healthy communities. The authors demonstrate that results-based governance and citizen engagement not only enrich community improvement efforts, they are necessary ingredients for success."
–Michael Rubinger, president and CEO, Local Initiatives Support Corporation

"Too many politicians think that being a leader means being a power broker. Results That Matter clearly demonstrates that leadership means letting the people lead."
–Mayor William Johnson, Rochester, New York

"Citizen involvement and performance measurement are both critical ingredients to developing an effective, efficient, and equitable local government. Results That Matter helps us understand that these two aspects of local governance go hand in hand, and when combined can become a powerful force for community change. This book will be a useful tool for elected officials, professional managers, and any community leader who is interested in finding ways to move their city to the cutting edge of change."
–Christopher T. Gates, president, National Civic League

"Results That Matter is a must-read for any community leader, especially those outside of government, who want to create a community culture of high expectation for success. The book provides an engaging depth of information while staying in the comfort zone of those who aren't experts in performance measurement."
–Michael Meotti, president and CEO, United Way of Connecticut

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780787960582
  • Publisher: Wiley, John & Sons, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 11/30/2005
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 7.26 (w) x 9.39 (h) x 0.94 (d)

Meet the Author

Paul D. Epstein is principal of Epstein and Fass Associates, a New York–based consulting firm. In 2003 he received the Harry Hatry Distinguished Performance Measurement Practice Award from the American Society for Public Administration for his lifetime achievements.

Paul M. Coates is director of the Office of State and Local Government Programs and associate professor of public policy and administration in the Department of Political Science at Iowa State University.

Lyle D. Wray is executive director of the Capitol Region Council of Governments based in Hartford, Connecticut. Wray served as executive director of the Citizens League from 1992 to 2003 and co-led, with Paul Epstein, the Sloan Foundation–funded research on citizen engagement and public performance measurement.

David Swain, a Florida-based consultant, managed the Jacksonville Community Council Inc.'s pioneering community quality of life indicators program from 1984 to 2002.

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Read an Excerpt

Results that Matter

By Paul Epstein

John Wiley & Sons

ISBN: 0-7879-6058-6

Chapter One


If you get a community that stays engaged in the process, they begin to trust the system. People realize, "This works," their ... engagement, and their trust, increase. PAUL MOESSNER, CITIZEN OF PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY, VIRGINIA

Prince William County, Virginia, has well-developed processes of engaging citizens. And it also has well-developed processes of measuring and managing the performance of county-funded services. What is especially powerful, for both county officials and engaged citizens, is that all these processes are part of the same system-the system that Paul Moessner and other citizens have come to trust. Because county officials listen to Moessner and others engaged in the process, these citizens have learned that they really do influence the goals and strategies that drive the county's budget and services. Moessner, for example, worked with other citizens to help the county set human service goals that resulted in more public funding of key services to meet the needs of a growing population and do more to address problems such as homelessness and drug abuse, which had been increasing. Because county officials listen to citizens, when they manage the performance of county services to produce measurable results, they get results that matter to the people of the county.

Prince William County is one of many communities, governments, and nonprofit organizations featured in this book that exhibit one or more forms of effective governance to achieve results that matter. Paul Moessner is one of many people in this book who have been empowered by effective governance processes to improve their community.

The purpose of this book is to help people and organizations find ways to become more effective at improving communities. The many people featured here who are effective at improving their communities include volunteer citizens like Moessner, directors and staff of nonprofit organizations, and elected officials and staff of governments. By reading about their experiences, as organized around key governance ideas in this book, you can find ways to:

Help citizens become more effective at influencing community change.

Make organizations that serve communities more effective at achieving measurable results and more responsive to the priority concerns of people and communities.

Help citizens or organizations become more effective at using information to influence decisions and improve results for the community.

Make investments (for example, by foundations, local funders, governments) in nonprofit service providers or community developers more effective at achieving results.

Build more effective collaborations or partnerships focused on results that matter for the community.

What you find most useful in this book will depend on your role in your community or your organization's role in communities it serves. It will also depend on the current governance practices and results orientation in your community or organization, including ways results are measured and citizens are engaged, and how citizen engagement and measured results are used to influence community and organizational decisions and actions. To help you think about governance and results in your community and how they can be improved, the Effective Community Governance Model is provided, as well as examples of parts of the model in action in communities and organizations across the United States. Also, to help you explore how citizens can be better engaged in your community, five major roles citizens can play in results-oriented governance are defined and highlighted in many community examples: citizens as stakeholders, advocates, issue framers, evaluators, and collaborators. One gauge of the effectiveness of community governance is how many different roles citizens engage in effectively. "Effective" engagement means citizens are able to exert a reasonable amount of influence on a community decision, action, or process.

The citizen roles and the Effective Community Governance Model take an expansive view of both citizens and governance. In this book, all people who want to participate in the affairs of their community are citizens, regardless of their legal status. And governance encompasses more than government, to include how many actors in the community-citizens, private organizations, and governments-make decisions and take actions that influence community well-being. See the Preface for more on the expansive views of "citizens" and "governance" used here.

Model of Effective Community Governance

This book tells community and organizational stories from across the country in the context of the Effective Community Governance Model, which involves three critical elements of governance: engaging citizens, measuring results, and getting things done (see Figure 1.1). These elements are core skills a community needs to survive and improve. As community well-being can be affected as much by private actions as by public ones, the model applies to both government and private decisions and actions, as noted by the words "public and private" in the lower left circle in Figure 1.1.

Core Community Skills Aligned as "Advanced Governance Practices"

Teams perform best when they combine different skills of their members in effective ways, making the team as a whole more effective than its individual members. When the efforts of people with different skills are all aligned in support of an organization's goals, the organization can perform at a more advanced level than if it applied all those skills separately, with no sense of supporting each other. In the same way, communities perform at a more advanced level if they align individual community skills in support of each other. The real power of using the effective governance model comes in aligning the core skills into one or more of four advanced governance practices shown in Figure 1.1. Every community or organizational story in this book involves alignment of at least two of the three core skills for the benefit of the community. Four of the stories-those of Prince William County, Virginia; Rochester, New York; Washington, D.C.; and the nonprofit community development corporations in the bistate Kansas City region-involve aligning all three.

The Core Community Skills

This book mostly focuses on the four advanced practices of the governance model. Here are brief descriptions of the three core community skills, with defining characteristics, that are important in ideas and examples explored throughout the book.

Engaging citizens means giving them real opportunities to make a difference, including opportunities to influence decisions and actions that affect the community. That may happen, for example, because decision makers are listening to citizens from the beginning of a community process, or because after citizens have developed their own priorities or solutions, they effectively advocate to decision makers to implement desired community change. While many ways of gathering citizen input can be used in the course of a community process, such as surveys and public comments, deliberative methods involving dialogue among people are most desirable and should tend to be the most decisive methods of a process that uses multiple methods. It is important that all potentially affected interests in an issue be represented in deliberations, which can sometimes be just those most likely affected (for example, people who live near a proposed new building or facility), and other times should be a group that is demographically and geographically representative of the whole community. Citizen engagement can go beyond deliberation and advocacy, to citizens' collaborating in implementing change by volunteering their efforts or other resources to coproduce solutions or services.

Measures of results are measurable indicators of either conditions in the community or the results of services provided to the community as a whole or to targeted groups of people within the community. Indicators of community conditions, often called "community outcomes," can measure health, safety, social, economic, or environmental conditions. They can focus on conditions of people, or on conditions related to place or physical attributes of a community, such as housing, parks, streets, air, water, and sewers. Results can include indicators of citizens' satisfaction with services or perceptions of conditions. Community outcomes may or may not be a result of services or public policies, or they may be affected to different degrees by services and policies and by external forces such as the economy, weather, or actions of private parties such as landlords or businesses. In many examples in the book, terminology of the organizations involved is used, such as "performance measures," "quality-of-life indicators," "community indicators," "targets," or "neighborhood impact indicators." Unless an example separates out results or outcome measures from other measures (such as outputs), all of these types of indicators can, for purposes of this book, be considered "measures of results." Key to the effectiveness of measuring results is how the information is used in the community to improve results. For example, is performance information on measurable results fed back to inform community decisions? Are organizations in the community held accountable for improving measured results, or at least for taking actions that contribute to improving them?

Things get done when plans, decisions, and actions that affect conditions in the community are taken by public or private parties. "Actions" can involve provision of government or nonprofit services, including efforts to improve a service or adjust it to be more responsive to community needs or citizen priorities. They can also involve regulating or subsidizing parts of the economy to enforce or stimulate desired conditions, such as affordable housing, a desired density of residential or commercial development, use of mass transit, or creation of jobs. Actions can be focused on people or on the natural or built environment. Engaged citizens can help implement actions. Plans and decisions can indicate broad policy priorities as a public budget often does or changes in priorities as when funding is shifted to increase emphasis on certain goals or services relative to others. Or plans and decisions can be very specific, such as a plan to gradually replace diesel buses with alternative fuel buses to get cleaner air; a change in a zoning, health, or safety code; a decision on where to locate nonprofit housing or a public facility, or about what gets built on a specific site. A key to effectively getting things done is for organizations in the community to commit resources and to be accountable for implementing policies, plans, and actions as decided. Organizations can get things done on their own or in collaboration with other organizations or citizens. Collaborative efforts can involve multiple parties committing resources and holding themselves accountable, including citizens.

Key Themes of Effective Community Governance and Improvement

Each case example in this book describes a community's or organization's own specific approach to effective governance and improving the community. Four key themes that are common to multiple examples are briefly explored here: roles citizens play, use of performance feedback, accountability and resources, and collaborations. Some of these themes are stronger in some practices than others, and some are weak or missing from some practices. The many case examples throughout the book make it clearer how these themes play out differently for each advanced practice of the governance model.

Roles Citizens Play. Citizens can play a variety of different roles when engaged in their community. Generally the more roles citizens have an opportunity to play, the more they will get involved, contributing more energy to community improvement. A community that provides citizens opportunities to play a variety of roles can gain many ways to take advantage of citizens' ideas, talents, skills, and resources. Also, those communities can provide more opportunities for citizens with different interests to engage with each other to find common ground on a solution to a specific problem or, more generally, on priorities for improving the community.

Use of Performance Feedback. The cost and effort to collect and report data on measurable indicators of results is of little value if the information is not used in an effort to improve the community. Communities and organizations increase their ability to improve results when they analyze performance data related to results and feed back what they learn into their planning and decision making. In this way, they can adjust their resource allocation and operations as best they can to get better results in the future. Some organizations and communities have developed cyclical systems of management or governance with built-in performance feedback loops to ensure that performance information is considered in processes such as strategic planning, budgeting, designing programs, and analyzing service delivery practices. When organizations and communities repeatedly use systematic performance feedback, they are repeatedly giving themselves opportunities to find ways to improve results and making themselves more effective at achieving results.

Accountability and Resource Commitments. Community plans to solve a problem or enforce a policy, or goals to improve results, mean little if not backed up by resources for implementation. An organization might commit resources by making a formal budget allocation or assigning specific people, equipment, or funds to implementation. Several collaborating organizations or citizens might also commit resources. Commitments of resources in the community take on greater meaning if the organizations or people involved are willing to be held accountable for following through on a plan or achieving a goal. Measures of results similarly take on greater meaning if organizations in the community can be held accountable for improving results or achieving measurable goals or targets.

Collaborations. Many kinds of partnerships or collaborations can support effective community governance, including collaborative efforts to find compromise solutions to a community problem, reach consensus on community goals, or implement solutions and achieve common goals. Effective collaborations can be formed among organizations, among citizens, and between citizens and organizations. Indeed, the National Civic League sees the need for a broad base of collaborations for communities to be successful today, with businesses, government, and nonprofit organizations working with citizens to meet complex challenges. Often organizations with related missions (say, a public health agency and a private hospital) agree to pursue a common strategy to achieve a goal or coordinate their efforts to solve a community problem, thus forging a partnership that makes more effective use of existing community resources. Some collaborations end up focusing added resources on a community goal, particularly when an effort is made to identify and reach out to citizens or organizations that have not previously been involved but have time, expertise, or other resources useful for achieving that goal. Collaborations can make all four advanced practices of the governance model more effective, and they appear in many of the examples in this book.

The Advanced Governance Practices

The brief descriptions that follow highlight key tendencies of each advanced governance practice to help you begin to understand these practices and the overall governance model.

Advanced Practice 1-Community Problem Solving: Alignment of Engaging Citizens and Getting Things Done

Robust citizen engagement in all major roles.

Citizens tend to influence what gets done.

If solutions are developed collaboratively between citizens and an accountable organization, then accountability is achieved and resource commitments are often made as part of the problem-solving process. In other cases, citizens deliberate among themselves to develop their own solutions, and then must advocate to leaders of community organizations to commit resources and be held accountable for implementing solutions. While citizens will generally know whether a solution is implemented, the success of the solution over time with respect to impact on desired community outcomes will probably not be known because results are not systematically measured. Lack of results measurement also means there can be no systematic performance feedback into community decision making.


Excerpted from Results that Matter by Paul Epstein Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents



The Authors.

1. Engaging Citizens, Measuring Results, Getting Things Done.

2. Citizens’ Many Roles in Community Problem Solving.

3. Organizations Managing for Results.

4. Citizens Reaching for Results I: Key Ideas, Strategic Issues, and the First Three Case Examples.

5. Citizens Reaching for Results II: To Improve the Quality of Life in Their Region.

6. Communities Governing for Results I: An Introduction to the Practice and to Interpreting the Case Examples.

7. Communities Governing for Results II: Local Governments Engage Citizens in Results-Based Systems.

8. Communities Governing for Results III: Citizens Engaged in Results-Based Nonprofit Community Development.

9. More Ideas for Making It Happen.

Notes. Index.

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