Personal Outcomes Dialogue as Measurement and Feedback
CQL has demonstrated a solid track record in the reliable and valid measurement of Personal Outcome Measures® through our data base of thousands of personal outcome interviews conducted during accreditation reviews since 1993. Our emphasis on data collection and analysis, inter-rater reliability, and outcomes research is unique.
But, as Myron Kellner-Rogers recently wrote, "Too often we act as though we believe that the practice of metrics [measurement] creates the results we are searching for." Measurements, like values, are necessary ingredients for the organizational caldron from which personal outcomes emerge. Measurement and data alone will not produce outcomes. They can, however, be part of the hard organizational work of facilitating outcomes when they are gathered and analyzed as part of the process of providing feedback to the organization.
Kellner-Rogers adds "Feedback is about conversations with each other and our environment, constantly changing our view of ourselves and the meaning of our actions."
The application of the Personal Outcome Measures® produces valuable feedback beyond simple measurement.
- The meaning that the individual attaches to personal outcomes
- The priority and importance of various personal outcomes
- How organizational supports facilitate the outcomes
- Where organizational barriers inhibit the attainment of outcomes
Interviews with the Personal Outcome Measures® promote feedback because of:
The organization generates the information in its self-assessment. Employees identify key issues and provide and analyze feedback from those perspectives.
The organization's internal strengths and weaknesses, threats from funders and regulators, pressure or praise from families, advocates, and the public can cause organizations to bend or attempt to "spin" information. The Personal Outcomes provide feedback that is grounded in the people receiving services and supports. The organizations discover at times, consistency, contradiction, and confusion in the feedback messages from external sources, from staff, and people receiving services and supports. Learning to balance and adjust these various points of view becomes a priority.
Wrong Path Mapping
Feedback from the self-assessment tells organizations when they have embarked on the wrong path in overlooking or mistakenly identifying Personal Outcomes. Feedback also addresses organizational supports that facilitate outcomes and other supports that are unconnected to people's outcomes. This enables organizations to gather information they might ignore. But, this information is vital - indeed more important than confirming information that the organization is succeeding. The disconfirming information leads organizations into new systems alignment that is more conducive to people served and supported.
Measurement is important. Measurement is important because it is a form of feedback. Interviews with the Personal Outcome Measures® provide an added dimension of feedback for the organization. The numerical scores need to be viewed as a source of creative ambiguity. People served, staff, volunteers, and families should use these findings and inconsistencies and contradictions to probe further into the organizations' systems of service and support.
James F. Gardner, PhD
Former President & CEO, CQL