UX + Program Evaluation for Social Innovators

Programs can be planned and planned but when released into the wild, they must adapt to the reality of the unforeseen in order to be successful. This creates a challenge for organizations who are innovative in the programs they develop, but who also must show measurable success quickly to appease stakeholders and funders. Program success is often judged based on results of traditional, summative evaluation. However, for summative evaluation to be both accurate and useful, the programs being evaluated must first reach a stable state, which can often take years. Traditional evaluation methods are not lean and agile enough to support the entrepreneurial nature of early stage program development and scaling.

In the product design world, however, iterative research and evaluation methods have been developed to both adapt to the quick pace of entrepreneurial business and to reduce the risk of designs being unsuccessful when they are first released into the wild. These types of research and evaluation strategies empower innovation.

Why not adapt the iterative strategies of product evaluation to program evaluation, so that we can empower social innovators to solve our most pressing community challenges and have greater impact? Our goal is to do just that. We want to use research and evaluation to help empower social innovators who are in the messy trenches of program development. We want to adapt strategies from user experience (UX) research and usability testing to support the development of innovative programs and reduce the risk that those programs are implemented without reaching their potential.