I watched a very good video on leadership this morning and have included the link below.
The premise of the presenter, Simon Sinek, is that great leaders have a backwards way of thinking about things that he calls the “Golden Circle.” As he explains it, most people and organizations think in a progression that goes from What to How to Why (ex/ what do we do, how do we do it, why do we do it), with the Why being the smallest element. Great leaders and organizations, however, begin with the Why as the central focus and then move outwards to the other two elements.
This is not a revolutionary idea. It is the basic idea behind having a mission or vision statement. However, I think it is much harder to do in practice and can see a direct connection to program evaluation. I believe most groups or organizations start programs with good intentions. There is an underlying Why in the beginning, but this often gests lost in the What and How in much the same way that a student can often tell you what the assignment is and how to do it but cannot explain why they are doing it. So, in program evaluation, it can be essential in the beginning to get at the Why of the program as a key piece of understanding What it was intended to achieve and How it was supposed to do this. My supposition is that the Why of highly-effective programs will be evident very quickly but will be much harder to find the less effective a program is and, thus, the extent to which the Why is readily evident can act a something of a barometer from the very start of the evaluation process.