Change models - Outcome Based Accountability (OBA)
In recent years there has been a concerted effort by Government to focus attention on improving outcomes for children and young people and their families based on the five outcomes of: be healthy; stay safe; enjoy and achieve; make a positive contribution and achieve economic wellbeing. This has led to the development of new ways of working using outcomes-based frameworks. This model is essentially one which uses the concepts of performance measurement and performance management to strengthen accountability and achieve positive change.
Outcome Based Accountability:
- has a focus on the customer – looking outwards is its priority
- understands that change and improvement happen because individuals, agencies and communities work together with a common purpose
- uses a common language to increase dialogue between the customer and the agency / provider
- involves customers in both strategic planning and the monitoring of performance
- measures effectiveness as well as efficiency in all parts of the organisation
- uses data to determine priorities and performance
- makes use of report cards both at all levels of the organisation and within communities to highlight the effectiveness of performance
Further distinguishing features
An outcomes-focused organisation will have a different culture from those agencies and individuals who focus only on means, processes and structures. Too often when reports are prepared they are full of descriptions of 'what' is happening, very often preoccupied with describing 'how' the processes, systems and structures are working, but very little with whether it is making any difference to anyone.
The model was developed by Mark Friedman, drawing on his experience as a government official in the USA. His model (originally designated as Results Based Accountability) has been implemented extensively in both the USA and other countries including the UK.
Relevance to children's services
The Local Government Improvement and Development Agency (IDeA) has promoted the model and an OBA Toolkit has been developed by C4EO. Download a report with case studies.
Comments from Sector Specialists
Works well where you want to focus on a specific well-defined area to 'narrow the gap'. It challenges staff to focus on outcomes rather than outputs.
In an integrated work group it provides a structure and process for identifying outcomes, progress measures (indicators) and how each partner can and does contribute to those outcomes.
Resources: OBA workshops are available to begin the process. Requires an in depth knowledge of the area of work the targets relate to.
Tips for success
- ensure all relevant people are included in the workshop and have relevant data to hand.
- involves a shift in mindset from outputs to outcomes - be clear that it's about small, achievable change.
- participants should decide the outcomes for themselves - but they sometimes prefer to be told what they are.