Hunter Consulting, LLC
David E. K. Hunter, Ph.D.
Using Performance Management
David E.K. Hunter, Ph.D.
Presentation to the Ramboll Management Delegation from Denmark
New York City March 31, 2008
“What is not measured is not managed.”
1. What is Performance Management?
An organization is a complex, adaptive system – that is, a recognizable grouping of
elements (management, programs, services, staff, etc.) that are interconnected and
organized to achieve a set of objectives. In the context of organizational behavior,
performance is intentional action intended to enable an organization achieve one or
more measurable objective(s). Performance can be good or bad, effective or ineffective,
successful or unsuccessful, well managed or not.
Performance management is:
o a multi-step, self-correcting process that
o focuses on driving an organization with intentionality toward explicit, clear,
measurable objectives as expressed in outcomes,
o specifies how the organization will learn from front-line and managerial
experience along the way,
o clarifies what the organization is doing and achieving, and
o provides critical information in real time so the organization can adjust what it is
doing in light of the results it is obtaining.
A well designed, implemented and utilized performance management system provides all
the data an organization needs to manage effectively and efficiently, drive up quality, and
produce intended results..
2. Performance Management for What?
o Performance management serves to create and deliver high social value – that is,
improved conditions and prospects for targeted populations.
o This is not the same as providing low cost services. Rather, performance
management is grounded in the assumption that the full cost of building and
sustaining local capacity to deliver social services will be funded adequately – but
that services will be managed with high intentionality toward achieving intended
results without waste.
o The benefit of performance management therefore is not low cost services, but
rather high value services– as defined in measurably better conditions and
prospects for the targeted individuals, groups and populations – and are delivered
efficiently in cost-effective ways.
3. How are Funds Routinely Wasted in Social Services?
o Implementing programs without any evidence that they work.
o Working hard but not well – ignoring the distinction between outputs and
o Indulging in sentimentality – as manifested (among other things) by:
refusal to define outcomes measurably, and indulging those who claim
that making outcomes measurable somehow dehumanizes services
refusal to link all staff activities to targeted outcomes
refusal to set limits on what front line staff can and cannot do
refusal to institute accountability systems based on results, not services
o Excessively catering to political imperatives – such as the perceived need to
spread around public of foundations funds to all local NGOs because they have
strong political claims – rather than channeling public revenues toward those
agencies that measurably improve the lives of the people they serve (and away
from those that don’t).
4. Steps toward Successful Public Sector Performance Management
o Actualize grand (political) messages by developing clear goals and objectives that
are concretized in measurable outcomes and their indicators. And then manage
toward these outcomes and indicators as relentlessly as Hannibal was in driving
elephants over the Alps.
o Develop a deep understanding of the domain within which a program will seek to
create and deliver social value.
o Create a “theory of change” (with “buy-in” by key constituencies) that provides a
blueprint for how resources will be used to build local capacity (both government
and NGO) to deliver services that really work, and to do so consistently and
sustainably to the groups they are intended to help.
o Identify the essential indicators of progress. That is, clarify the “metrics” that
front line staff should collect and use to focus and improve their daily work with
o Implement a real time data system that is easy for front line staff to use to enter
and retrieve key performance data. Follow the “Tips” described in the
o Design supervision to use performance data to support front line staff in
sharpening their ability to help clients achieve targeted outcomes.
o Implement management benchmarks for acceptable “success rates” for clients,
and treat trend lines that are not above these benchmarks as organizational crises
that demand immediate intervention – such as targeted staff development,
improved or more focused or more frequent supervision.
o Use client outcome rates as the basis of annual performance reviews for front line
staff, their supervisors, program managers, and program directors.
o Make hard decisions when individuals at any level within the organization do not
respond to targeted professional development and supervision with improved
performance – as defined in improved client success rates.
4. Use grants and contracts that hold local government programs and NGO
agencies responsible for results, not activities
o The key measure to use is cost per active service slot [an active service slot is the
position occupied in a program by a person who is participating in the program
and receiving the appropriate services at a level of intensity high enough, and for
a period long enough, to be likely to benefit from the program as intended and as
specified in the theory of change]1
o Additional measures to track
number of individuals/families served per year
number/percent of individuals/families who finish program as planed
number/percent of individuals/families who terminate early (and why)
outcomes for all program participants (short, intermediate, long-term)
5. Develop performance management systems in collaboration with local programs
o Plan to pay about 20% for administrative overhead
o Re-evaluate for program implementation and impacts periodically, to account
Changes in demographics
Changes in baseline characteristics
6. Adjust budgets and/or grants and contracts accordingly
Hunter D.E.K. & Koopmans M. “Calculating Program Capacity using the Concept of Active Service
Slot,” Evaluation and Program Planning, 29:186-192(2006)