So what's so important about Results Based Accountability? It's actually something that many of us do naturally without even thinking about it. RBA starts with ends or projected outcomes and works backward, step by step, towards means, according to Deitre Epps, Partner and Senior Consultant with Clear Impact. For communities, the ends are conditions of well-being for children, families or the community as a whole. Examples that Epps shared with us included: Residents with good jobs, children ready for school, healthy communities, or having a safe and clean neighborhood. For many community programs, the outcome or the end is how better off it is when the program works the way it should.
I fell in love instantly with the teachings of Results Based Accountability because:
- It moves from talking to action very quickly.
- It's an easy and common sense process that most people can understand.
- It drives groups to participate and challenge assumptions that can be barriers to improving circumstances or conditions.
- It builds strong collaboration and consensus among team or community members.
- It uses data and transparency to ensure accountability for the overall community and the performance of programs.
In the beginning, I struggled with changing my way of thinking. I was familiar with the methods but it took me a bit to grab hold of the terminology that was foreign to me. The facilitator never gave up on me or any of the others in the room. Her support was a great value to each of us. Her discussion of the Results Based Accountability "Turn the Curve" template pulled us into the process with eyes wide open with excitement.
The Turn Curve Template is an overview of the step by step RBA turns the curve decision-making process. The following are 6 steps from the template to help turn the curve:
- What is the end?
- Choose a result and an indicator or a performance measure
- How are we doing?
- What is the story behind the curve of the baseline?
- Briefly explain the story behind the baseline: the factors (positive & negative, internal and external) that are most strongly influencing the curve of the baseline.
- Who are partners who have a role to play in turning the curve?
- Identify partners who may have a role to play in turning the curve of the baseline.
- What works to turn the curve?
- Determine what would work to turn the curve of the baseline. Include no cost or low-cost strategies.
- What do we propose to do to turn the curve?
- Determine what you and your partners propose to do to turn the curve of the baseline.