The author presents a comparative framework of rapid evaluation methods for other projects completed with three levels of complexity:
- Quality improvement methods for simple process improvement projects;
- Rapid-cycle evaluations for complicated organizational change programs; and
- Systems-based rapid feedback methods for large-scale systemic or population change initiatives.
The paper provides an example of each type of rapid evaluation and ends with a discussion of rapid evaluation principles appropriate for any level of complexity. The author also presents a comparative framework that is designed as a heuristic tool rather than as a prescriptive how-to manual for assigning rapid evaluation methods to different projects.
The paper is organized as follows. Section I sets the stage by describing the Department of Health and Human Services’ effort to build internal evaluation capacity. Section II provides a review of various rapid evaluation approaches that were developed for different kinds of initiatives. Section III presents a comparative framework of rapid evaluation methods for projects at three levels of complexity: quality improvement methods for simple process improvement projects, rapid-cycle evaluations for complicated organizational change programs, and systems-based rapid feedback methods for large-scale systemic change or population health initiatives. Sections IV, V, and VI provide examples of each type of rapid evaluation. In Section VII, the paper ends with a discussion of the value of rapid evaluation principles that are appropriate at any level of complexity.
Major Findings & Recommendations
- No one rapid evaluation method works best in all circumstances; the right approach addresses the goals of the evaluation and captures the complexities of the intervention and its environment.
- Different rapid evaluation methods are appropriate for different circumstances.
- Quality improvement and performance measurement methods are appropriate for process improvement projects.
- Rapid program evaluation methods are appropriate for organizational change programs.
- Developmental evaluation and other systemic change evaluation methods are best for larger-scale systems change initiatives.