Remap the vision
Once an intervention has been piloted and the evaluation data gathered, it is important to weigh up the different aspects of the project as a whole by returning to the balanced scorecard. This gives a chance to ascertain whether the original vision and strategy for the intervention has been maintained. If a project has moved off initial target, this may signal that adjustments are needed. However, it may also be that the intervention has merely settled into a more appropriate niche. In this case, it may be that the initial vision and strategy needs to be updated.
As well as updating the balanced scorecard, an important development following the pilot is to turn the visions and goals of the project into clear and concise objectives. These objectives will set out more specifically what the intervention has the potential to achieve. Objectives should, if possible, be ‘SMART’ to maximize their clarity to readers. SMART objectives were set out by George T Doran in 1981 in the journal Management Review.(4) Doran proposed that if people focused their attention onto five criteria when setting objectives, then they would have a higher chance of succeeding. The criteria areas that objectives should aim to contain are:
- ? Specific: clearly defined and well targeted to the participant group
- ? Measurable: it should be possible to track whether the obj ective has been achieved
- ? Assignable: stakeholders involved in the project should confirm that the objectives are suitable and specific people should be assigned to make them happen
- ? Realistic: it should be possible to achieve them through the intervention
- ? Time-related: there should be enough time to achieve the objectives, yet not so much that they lose their value
So, for example, an objective should not be ‘the dancing class will improve mobility, but rather ‘a 6-week programme of weekly hour-long dance classes will lead to 90% of participants self-rating that they feel more generally mobile than before they started the programme’. Often interventions will have more than one objective. However, more than five or six objectives for each of the four headings in the balanced scorecard could lead to a diffuse project rather than one that is clearly defined. These objectives will become what is tested as part of the full evaluation and, if relevant, the framework for what is taken forwards as a research idea. Consequently, they are an important output from the pilot evaluation.
Project Smart is an online resource that contains further information on establishing SMART objectives as well as containing a wealth of other information for establishing effective projects. www.projectsmart.co.uk.