DoView Program/Organizational Review.

The review team then attempts to capture 'what the program is trying to do' in some form; analyze if the program seems to be doing it; and then it makes recommendations for how the initiative can be improved.

The DoView Program/Organizational Review Process provides a more efficient way of doing a review.

In many situations, an external agency, or an independent review team in a larger organizations, has to review or monitor another program, initiative or organization.

This is usually done by the review team going through a large number of documents and having a number of discussions with the initiative's staff and stakeholders.

It does this by the review team building a DoView visual strategy model setting out 'what the program is trying to do'.

This visual strategy model is then used as the framework for answering a number of the key questions any review team will be wanting to ask. These questions are set out below.

1. Does the initiative know what it is trying to do?

The Solution

The review team's DoView visual strategy model (outcomes model) built for the initiative sets out all of the initiative's outcomes and all of the steps it is belived are needed to get to them. This information can be either be pulled from the initiative's documentation and discussions with staff and stakeholders, or built interactively with the initiative.

Below is an example of a DoView visual strategy model for a mental health service. Click on the boxes with gray triangles in them to navigate through the model. You will be able to see the detail that is provided on drill-down pages.

More on how to draw a program/initiative/organizational DoView.

The Problem

The program/initiative/ organization being reviewed will have a range of documentation that may, or may not, clearly describe its outcomes. In some cases, the initiative may even be confused about its own outcomes. Making sure that an initiative is clear about its outcomes is a key part of any review process.

The review team needs a methodology to quickly work out whether the initiative being reviewed has a clear concept of its outcomes and how it is going to achieve these.

The Benefits

The visual format of the strategy model provides a very fast way for the review team to check the logic of what the initiative is trying to do. The review team can also show initiative staff the model to quickly check if the initiative believes the model captures exactly what it is trying to do.

The visual strategy model can then be critiqued by the review/monitoring team itself; it can be checked against previous research and evaluation findings; and/or sent to external peer reviewers for critique.

It can also be used in discussions with stakeholders to see if they think that the initiative is clear in its thinking about what it is trying to do.

2. What is the initiative’s priorities and is its activity focused on them? 

The Solution

DoView Line-of-sight alignment can be used to quickly and transparently work out whether the initiative's actitivies are directed at its priorities.

First, the visual strategy model is marked up with the priorities the initiative is currently focusing on.

Second, the actual pieces of work the initiative itself is undertaking are identified (at the outputs-type level) and these are then visually mapped onto the boxes within the strategy model. This can be done by the initiative itself and reviewed by the review team or done jointly with the review team.

The extent to which there is line-of-sight alignment can be easily identified by looking at the number of pieces of work focused on each box within the strategy model. This will reveal if more work is focused on priority boxes and quickly provide a clear view of whether the initiative has achieved strategic alignment.

See here for how DoView Line-of-Sight alignment works

The Problem

It is hard for a review team to be certain that an initiative is tightly focused on its priorities.

Using the traditional approach of studying documentation and just talking to the initiative's management and staff it can be hard for the review team to quickly work out whether or not the initiative is actually fully focused on its priorities.

The Benefits

This visual methodology cuts through the problem of review teams not being able to quickly 'look into' the intitiative being reviewed to work out whether or not its work is focused on its priorities.

The strategy model marked-up with priorities can be used as the basis for discussions with stakeholders. This is to check whether stakeholder's views of what the initiative's priorities should be match up with what the initiative thinks its current priorities are.

The second stage, where the initiative's current work (at the output or project-type level) is mapped onto the boxes in the visual strategy model, is by far the most powerful and transparent way of quickly analyzing whether an initiative's work is actually focused on its priorities.

The DoView strategy model drill-down page below shows how a page can be marked-up with priorities.

3. What is the initiative currently measuring and how are those measures tracking?

The Solution

The solution is to map the initiative's indicators onto the visual strategy model next to the boxes it is believed they are measuring.

The review team can then very quickly assess whether the indicators are measuring what is in the box they have been put next to and, secondly, whether the indicators that are being measured are measuring important boxes or not.

Examples of indicators being mapped onto a DoView model can be seen here.

The Problem

The documentation produced by the initiative being reviewed is likely to include information on indicators that it is measuring.

However, it is often hard for the review team to quickly work out whether this set of indicators are actually measuring the 'important' rather than just the 'easy to measure'.

The Benefits

The visual approach of putting indicators next to the boxes they are measuring within the visual strategy model, makes it much faster to identify what is, and is not, being measured by the initiative.

The traditional approach to doing this work in reviews is to attempt to do this by looking at indicators within table formats of one type of another - this is much less efficient than using a visual strategy modeling approach.

4. What is the initiative doing to prove its impact?

The Solution

Impact evaluation questions which have been answered are mapped directly onto the visual strategy model next to the boxes for which impact has been established by the initiative.

More on putting evaluation questions onto a DoView

More on Duignan's Impact Evaluation Feasibility Check

The Problem

Initiatives differ in regard to how easy it is for them to prove that they are having an impact. It is often difficult for a review team to quickly get to grips with what it is that the initiative has actually established in terms of how much impact it is having on high-level outcomes.

Impact evaluation is a complex technical area which is often hard for a review team to rapidly assess.

The Benefits

The visual approach of putting evaluation questions next to the relevant boxes in the visual strategy model makes it much easier to work out the level at which the impact of an initiative has been established.

It makes it crystal clear as to which impact evaluation questions have, and have not, been answered regarding the initiative. It immediately clarifies the level at which impact has been established. Sometimes an initiative will claim that it has established 'impact' but on further inspection it becomes clear that it has only established impact at a relatively low level.

Reviewers should not make unrealistic demands as to the level at which impact is established, but it is essential that they are clear as to where that level lies for the initiative they are reviewing.

5. What is the best way to quickly summarize the strengths and weaknesses of the initiative that is being reviewed?

The Solution

A visual strategy model can be used as the most efficient and transparent way of communicating the results of any review.

A review/monitoring team can 'traffic-light' the initiative's DoView strategy model. This shows the boxes where there are problems and the boxes which the review team thinks are going well. This 'marked-up' DoView can then be used by the review/monitoring team as a summary graphic in their report.

A related technique - a Performance Improvement DoView is used in the same way to show both areas of strength and weakness and how these are being addressed by an initiative going forward.

More on how to use a Performance Improvement DoView

The Problem

Review reports can typically run to many pages. An important problem in a time-pressured world is how a review team can very quickly communicate with the initiative, funders, stakeholders and other audiences the exact areas where the initiative is functioning well and those areas where it needs to improve.

The Benefits

The DoView visual strategy model provides the fastest way of communicating the results of the review of an initiative.

If the review report includes a strategy model marked-up with traffic lights, the report reader can get an overview of the findings of the review within a minute or two. They can then look at the review text to get further information.

The model below shows how a DoView strategy model can be used to summarize the results of a review. You can see that for this initiative there were problems with: risk management; service structure matching its function; and monitoring and evaluation. In addition there could be improvements in: financial management; client information systems; their brand; client satisfaction; relationships with families; funders and their financial viability - but these were not major problems. Lastly, the initiative was doing well in regard to all of the boxes with green traffic-lights.


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