- Author: Carol Kochhar-Bryant
- Date: November 12, 2020
The previous blog in the Wayfinding series introduced the ‘logic model’ as a special kind of compass and roadmap…
Recently, the term ‘wayfinding’ has shown up in all kinds of arenas. Historically, wayfinding refers to the techniques used by ancient travelers over land and sea to find relatively unmarked routes.
For example, it can refer to the traditional navigation methods used by indigenous peoples of Polynesia, who mastered the way of wayfinding to explore the islands of the Pacific. More recently, wayfinding has been interpreted for a social activity and cognitive process of finding our way through routes in buildings, communities, and cities. For example, in hospitals, there is a trend to integrate the wayfinding systems and traditional signage to help visitors more easily find their way in the environment, and to reduce the burden on employees who frequently need to help visitors to get to their destinations. Wayfinding is also used in the field of leadership development, suggesting that leaders in any endeavor are on a journey that requires stepping into the unknown, developing sharper powers of observation, being comfortable with uncertainty, and finding new ways to tackle problems and find solutions (Spiller, Barclay-Kerr, & Panoho, 2015).
The basic processes of wayfinding involve four stages:
So what does all this about wayfinding have to do with ‘performance measurement’ and evaluation? Wayfinding – and the four steps above – provide a useful metaphor for thinking about evaluation and performance measurement.
When programs or agencies decide they need to evaluate their programs, they may feel as though they have not visited here before and they have no map for exploring the landscape. They may feel lost and begin by trying to orient themselves toward their desired destination or outcome. Next, they gather key stakeholders in order to select a course of direction, or route decision, toward their destination. Next, they set up a tracking or monitoring system to make sure they are heading toward their destination (outcome). Finally, they try to reach consensus about when they will be able to recognize that they have reached their destination (outcome). Evaluation and performance measurement is a process, but it is also, invariably, a journey of discovery.
The Maricopa Association of Governments, Phoenix, AZ, recently hosted an online evaluation workshop by this author, for volunteer driver agencies and mobility managers who serve clients who need specialized transportation services. The workshop introduced the many purposes of evaluation, including the following: (1) find a way to define and measure ‘success’ – what is working and getting results for our riders/customers (meaningful evidence); (2) evaluate the results of volunteer driver services or make improvements in their services; (3) assess results or effects of an operational change in volunteer driver services or mobility management; (4) decide how best to expand services in a new area; and (5) convince decision makers and funders that volunteer driver services, accessible community transportation, and mobility management are a vital part of a thriving community.
Evaluation for wayfinding is about the journey of a group of people on a mission, who have an important story to tell about their contribution to the community and the people in it. Performance measures capture that story and powerful data provides the compass.
Lidwell, William, Kritina Holden and Jill Butler. Universal principles of design. (Rockport Publishers, Beverly, MA, 2010) p. 260.
Spiller, C., Barclay-Kerr, H., & Panoho, J. (2015). Wayfinding Leadership: Ground-breaking wisdom for developing leaders. Huia Publishers.
Carol Kochhar-Bryant is an Evaluation Consultant with the National Center for Mobility Management, and Professor Emeritus at the George Washington University, Washington D.C. She lives in Reston, Virginia.
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