Monday, 15 September 2008

To laugh or cry

I came across a sentence today, while doing some background reading on self-directed services for people with disabilities, which made me laugh out loud (that doesn’t often happen in my line of work!)

The final sentence in the paragraph below may not be all that amusing to most people, but for me it resonates with so many things I’ve seen in the past and really epitomises what is wrong with so much social and public policy.

“The xxx evaluation examined the impact of the program on all stakeholders. As stated by xxx in xxx, the program intended to assist students in their move from school to further education, training, employment and recreational activities and to facilitate the development of a flexible, consumer-responsive service system. However, there were no clearly stated aims and objectives for the program that could be used for its evaluation.”

Shedloads of money gets thrown at all kinds of initiatives and ideas, often according to ministerial or other political whims. Then, when some poor researcher or consultant is dragged in to try to make sense of what’s happened and identify lessons that we could all learn for the future (and therefore avoid wasting precious resources), they find a whole bundle of activities taking place, with “no clearly stated aims and objectives”. How can you figure out what works if you don’t know what you were trying to achieve in the first place?

It made me laugh because I could almost hear the writer’s silent cursing, but really it makes me cry.

1 comment:

Will Bryson said...

hmm, sounds familiar!