Are Outcomes the Best Outcome?
This report challenges the obsession with outcomes as part of the current preoccupation with accountability. The paper recognizes and concurs with the importance of setting and trying to meet clearly defined targets. But it argues that many crucial and equally important developments inadvertently can be overlooked in the quest to quantify. The report first describes the many factors that are creating pressures to enhance government, business and voluntary sector accountability. It then tells the story of Opportunities 2000 (OP2000), a community-based project to reduce poverty in Waterloo Region, that is trying to demonstrate the effectiveness of its work by using quantitative targets. The paper describes how the preoccupation with the outcome indicators upon which OP2000 was built has skewed much of the real story – the project”s widespread and myriad accomplishments that cannot easily be quantified as a set value, figure or percentage. The primary role of community work is to build social capital and the problem-solving infrastructure that effectively mobilize diverse sectors of the community to tackle complex issues. The report puts forward several proposals, including a multidisciplinary research agenda, to help address the disjuncture between broad community work and narrowly defined outcomes.
ISBN – 1-894159-68-3