Leveraging performance metrics for your community

Alexandria_Assessment_Performance_ExAM (1)

I’ve recently been talking to the group, ACT for Alexandria, based in Alexandria, Virginia about a project they’ve been working on called the Community Indicators Project.  This concept is essentially the idea that community stakeholders should have a set of performance metrics, indicators, and dashboards that help the community have a conversation about itself. Covering topics such as:

  • what it means to be a member of the community
  • fostering fact based discussion about how to improve the quality of life across the community
  • how to better leverage services
  • generally how to improve Alexandria community citizens’ quality of life

I think it pretty closely parallels a lot of the work that we do in large organizations where we also have complex stakeholder organizations, groups, and people. One of the things that’s so interesting about the Community Indicators Project is that it really shows just how interconnected organizational, or in the case community, indicators can be. You’ve got citizens, charitable organizations, politicians, government, official businesses, and there’s a whole broad swath of organizations that need to be able to access and feed information into the Community Indicators Project for it to work.

In this first release of the project, they’ve identified 120 different indicators that they believe drive the health or performance of Alexandria at large. Now 120 is probably way too many for any one person to focus on the performance of any one indicator so they have taken some time to group them into 11 themes. The themes are topics like health, the community, and other things that are a little bit easier to understand. From there, those indicators are split roughly half and half between information that comes from existing systems like Alexandria government systems and outputs from things that they’re doing within the community right now and community oriented indicators.  The community indicators are actually manually input by people out in the community. They are either harvested off the web or in some other way from that broader community. At the end of it, the idea is that this is going to be the central place for people to have a conversation about the performance of the community at large. I’m really interested to see how it turns out. I’m curious if other folks have been involved in efforts like this, what their experiences have been, and if you have any advice. I’d love to learn more about what works and what doesn’t.

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