BH TIG Week: Developing SMART and WISE indicators by Evangeline Danseco

Hello, my name is Evangeline Danseco and I work as a Performance Measurement Coach at the Ontario Centre of Excellence for Child and Youth Mental Health. I help community-based non-profit agencies develop a performance measurement framework for their organization.

In my recent work with community-based agencies, I encourage them to think about including both SMART indicators and WISE indicators in their performance measurement framework. Key performance indicators let an organization know how well it is progressing toward achieving the goals they set out. Indicators that are SMART are those that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely. When indicators are framed the SMART way, there is greater clarity among staff when collecting and analyzing the data.

Sometimes, it is difficult to summarize our work with numbers using the SMART criteria. The stories and inspiring elements of the work do not surface enough and yet exert a tremendous influence on the organization’s development and culture. WISE indicators consider the Whole system, are Inspiring, consider the Story and the Synergy among indicators, and are Engaging. Considering the Whole system means that a holistic perspective of the organization’s mission is evident among the indicators, and that a systems approach or a theory of change is reflected among all of the indicators. Indicators can be inspiring and point to the things that the organization is improving upon, not only focus on errors or mandatory requirements. The Story and Synergy among the indicators provide an accurate picture of what is happening in the entire organization. Finally, Engaging indicators need to involve key stakeholders at every step of the process of defining, collecting and using the indicators. When identifying key performance indicators, make sure that the indicators can galvanize people into action. Try to have space for these WISE indicators that are important and complement other indicators that are measured in traditional ways.

Hot Tip: A scorecard is a useful way of summarizing key performance indicators that agencies want to monitor and improve upon. Domains in a scorecard typically include financial indicators, staff or human resource indicators, program effectiveness or impact, and indicators relating to the key stakeholders of the agency.

Rad Resource: Our recent report summarizes some of the domains and examples of child and youth mental health indicators measured at a system level such as state-wide or country level indicators. These indicators help different stakeholders such as policy-makers, researchers, families and clinicians understand how well a system is doing.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Behavioral Health (BH) TIG Week with our colleagues in Behavioral Health Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our BH TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

2 thoughts on “BH TIG Week: Developing SMART and WISE indicators by Evangeline Danseco”

  1. I really appreciate this simple framework that incorporates these additional critical elements There is no doubt around the utility of the “SMART” framework, and it is certainly valuable to have clarity around key performance indicators so that there is everyone understands what needs to be done and how to do it. But so often we stop at the logical and fail to consider the emotional and behavioural elements that are so necessary to drive change. The SMART framework does not consider that at the end we need to summarize and present to others with an objective of changing behaviours.
    Whether it is a need to keep ourselves motivated to conduct the necessary work to achieve our goals or a wish to have a greater influence on the behaviour of others (i.e. influencing the organization’s development of culture), it takes more than just clear and logical information. But we also have to be careful not to lose the simplicity and clarity of the SMART framework.

    So I think the beauty of WISE framework is that it simply and effectively captures the critical social and behaviour elements with a clever extension the previous acronym. We equate wisdom with something that goes beyond being intelligent and knowing the facts – being wise is also understanding the meaning and the context of those facts. This is what the WISE framework provides – a way to ensure that we capture meaning and context (The Whole system, Inspiring elements, Story and Synergy of the elements) and then ensure that when we present our findings to others (in an Engaging manner) they listen and take action to change behaviours.

  2. Hi Evangeline, Thank you for sharing. I use the SMART objective framework with our clients pretty consistently. However, WISE indicators are new to me. Would you mind sharing examples of WISE indicators versus SMART indicators? -Ann

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