Strategic Plan for Evaluation
The Chicago Children’s Museum (CCM) selected RK&A to develop a strategic plan for evaluation that included the Museum’s current site as well as planning for a new museum in Daley Bicentennial Plaza. During three onsite sessions, RK&A led facilitated discussions and working sessions to collect information to co-create the strategic plan, provide professional development in best practice evaluation, and mobilize staff to implement the strategic plan.
How did we approach this project?
A primary characteristic of evaluation at CCM, as defined during the planning process, is meaningfulness—evaluation must directly relate to the Museum’s foundational documents. A corresponding challenge, however, was the number and scope of foundational documents (including the Museum’s mission, vision, Standards of Excellence, and position papers) that are very important to staff, particularly as CCM planned for the new museum. To overcome this challenge, our approach to developing the strategic plan for evaluation began with asking staff to articulate the purpose of evaluation at CCM. One of six points identified by staff was to provide consistent institutional measures of success that represent CCM’s foundational documents and provide a focused guidepost for staff’s work. This articulation of purpose paved the way to develop measures of success that would be fundamental to the plan.
RK&A facilitated discussions among different groups of staff across the Museum to help staff prioritize success measures. Selecting among the key ideas in CCM’s foundational documents was difficult, however staff recognized that everything cannot be measured nor are there unlimited definitions of success, particularly if evaluation work is to be realistic and doable. As a result, CCM staff prioritized four primary areas that define broad results for CCM visitors and staff’s work: (1) play and learning, (2) the adult experience, (3) diversity, and (4) access and inclusion.
What did we learn?
While the measures of success were developed for evaluation, staff immediately recognized their value for planning. Integrating measures of success into CCM’s planning work began even as the strategic plan for evaluation was in process. For example, staff across the Museum used the measures of success to inform annual planning, and they began to integrate the measures into the experience planning for the new museum. CCM staff also intend to integrate the measures of success into staff performance planning. While evaluation was the impetus for this project, CCM immediately realized the benefit of prioritizing and integrating consistent institutional measures as guideposts to staff’s ongoing planning and decision making.