PERFORMANCE OF GLOBAL BUSINESS:
Global Business Performance is a flexible, web based solution that provides the key components to support global decision making. It offers the integration and management of multiple, cross-country data sources including POS, retailer direct, syndicated and consumer data. Global Business Performance identifies trends and opportunities and delivers sales and performance insights across regions, countries and categories, only days after data is available.
Business Issue Addressed:
Sales & Channel Management
Key Features and Benefits:
Data from many disparate sources can be harmonized and integrated to give one consistent, accurate and actionable view of a company's performance across many different markets.
Sales, trends, performance, issues and opportunities can be identified across multiple countries, regions and categories a few days after the data is available, rather than weeks or months later.
This approach ensures the fast identification of global sales, marketing and supply chain opportunities, and provides the ability to focus on the key issues, and expand the solution when and where required
PERFORMANCE EVALUATION SYSTEM:
The second evaluation challenge is that networks are unique organizations that contrast to a large degree with the corporate, governmental or civil society organizational structures of their members. To paraphrase systems thinker Russell
The organizational chart on the left is common for government, business or civil society
organizations...typically the organizational forms of the members of a network. The network’s own organizational chart, however, is quite different, similar to what is presented on the right. The difference between a network and other organizational forms is more than the structure of relationships of power, money, information, co-operation and activities. The nature of those relationships is also unique in two important ways.
It is a necessity because network members are voluntary autonomous organizations. Hierarchical management and command and control simply do not work well with these social actors. Success depends on equity in the relations and exercise of power within the network. Leadership must stimulate and strengthen the active participation of all members and effective work in alliances. Democratic management and participation are the keys to empowerment, ownership and concerted, common action in a network.
Therefore, members’ participation in decision-making is the best guarantee that the decision will be implemented. Echoing the folks at the Canadian International Development Research Centre’s Evaluation Unit, the willingness of the members of a network to monitor and interpret success (along with planning, implementing and adjusting activities) constitutes ownership in a network.i
Another unique difference of a network compared to other organizational forms is the great diversity amongst its members, of course within a unity of purpose. Part of the genius of this organizational form is that its members share common values and a collective purpose but have different visions and strategies on how to achieve change. The organizational challenge is to enable each one of these heterogeneous actors to make a creative and constructive contribution. The evaluation task is to assess how well the actors are interacting and understand the fruits of their co-operation.
Because networks are such unique organizational forms that demand empowerment of the enormously diverse actors within it, the task of evaluation is also unique. Essentially, it is all about participation. As Madeline Church and colleagues at the Development Planning Unit, University College London say:
“Evaluation in the network context needs to pay attention to how the network: fosters participation by its members,
adds value to the work of its participants and
Links participants and their work together across time and space in ways that mobilise greater forces for change.”ii
Network stakeholders expect project-type evaluations
The third challenge of evaluating the performance of networks is that stakeholders demand accountability and results seen from a program or project perspective. Stakeholders want to see quick progress and clear results for money and time invested in the network project. Consequently, donors especially exert project-minded, cost-benefit pressure. The familiar project planning, monitoring and evaluation approach runs along the linear, causal chain:
Inputsàactivitiesàoutputsàoutcomesàimpact. They expect efficiency in the inputsàactivitiesàoutputs sequence, and they want to know that this sequence effectively leads to outcomes and impact. Are we doing well? Was our hypothesis valid? Did we do the right thing in a worthwhile way?
These are valid, understandable questions but they are problematic for two reasons. First, when a network carries on projects, typically managed by the secretariat, that mode of evaluation may be appropriate. When, however, the evaluation focus is the operation of the network as a whole, project or program evaluation methodologies do not work. Why? Well, for three reasons that flow from the two challenges presented above.
Networks are in the category of organizational forms that Michael Quinn Patton calls “non-linear, dynamic social change agents”.iii They make interventions based more on values than hypotheses. Their activities take place in complex situations without predetermined, predictable, or controllable results. Even the “right” inputs-activities-outputs equation is often uncertain, because what works and does not work only emerges as the interactions of the network unfold.
In a network’s activities and results—and we are talking fundamentally about fluid relationships amongst members and significant social change—cause and effect is rarely known and frequently not knowable, and then usually in retrospect.
The time horizon of a network is long-term and especially uncertain. The farther out the time horizon, the more uncertainty increases. Opportunities and risks proliferate, and with more time, these variations magnify uncertainty.
That is, sometimes the environment in which international networks operate is so volatile that project evaluation may not work even for short-term Secretariat projects. The project evaluation approach is even less appropriate for a program of projects or for the network as a whole.
Network evaluation requires hybrid, innovative approaches
The fourth and last challenge I see for network evaluation is the other side of the coin: How can networks demonstrate results if standard evaluation methods are inappropriate? The short answer is that networks must innovate and create hybrid approaches that meet their special needs and circumstances. That, however, requires just as much professional rigor as it does vigor.
Thus, a basic criterion is that evaluation in an international network must conform to professional standards. These four evaluation standards originally developed by the American Evaluation Associationiv are now being adapted around the world. Of course, a network may want to modify these or affirm others. An evaluation must meet standards of
Utility - Serve the information needs of intended users.
Feasibility - Ensure that an evaluation will be realistic and achievable in the light of the questions it seeks to answer and the available resources, be politically sensitive and sensible, and cost effective.
Propriety - Make sure that evaluation is conducted legally, ethically, and with due regard for the welfare of those involved, as well as those affected by its results.
Accuracy - Utilize evidence generated through appropriate and solid research methods and quantitative and qualitative analytical tools. For example, information should be triangulated—derived from three or more sources.
A second criterion is that you craft the evaluation to be highly participatory, or as participatory as the stakeholders want it to be. This is not simply recognition of the core, democratic values of an international social change network. In my experience, and that of other network evaluators, broad, active participation by stakeholders greatly enhances the validity and cost/benefit of the evaluation. Perhaps most importantly, through their participation, stakeholders and especially the members develop the understanding and the commitment to implement the conclusions and results.
Third, it has been found that the most useful definition of outcomes is IDRC’s notion of changes in the behaviour, relationships or activities of other social actors.v By focusing on two types of outcomes, international networks can resolve two of the biggest dilemmas they encounter in assessing their achievements: the dilemma of means and ends and impact measurement and attribution.
Networks are both a means and an end in them. The existence of a network is of special value because without it there would not be the interaction of its parts. I know that this is an unconventional criterion for results evaluation. A for-profit business can rarely justify itself by the number of employees it hires; its margin of profit and return on investment is the principal measurement of success. Sometimes the major achievement of a government may be simply to have finished its term of office, but usually its results are evaluated in terms of the quantity and nature of its contribution to the common good. An NGO does not exist to exist; the NGO must benefit other people.
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