The Measurement Dilemma - How Will You Know People Are Developing Social Capital

Any formal program or service in human services must have the wearwithal to examine and evaluate its outcome and impact on the people it serves.  Most of the time these evaluations are specific to the individuals growth or development.  That is, if you set a plan to help someone in losing weight, a simple scale of measurement at key benchmark times will help you know if your efforts are on target.

Often, measures are designed to show micro improvement.  In disability programs these measures often look at a person's enhanced capability to perform tasks independently, or to demonstrate that they have a new skill.   But if your agenda is to help people become more included, or to be more accepted in the greater community, the classic micro measures may not work. So what can you do?

To this end, you need to be aware of macro measures that look more at engagement patterns and relationships.  At the Intedependence Network, ( we have been doing just this.  We have taken "The Social Capital Benchmarking Survey" developed by Robert Putnam at Harvard, and began to look at how connected people with disabilities served by agencies in the US, Canada, and Australia are in the typical community.  The results of this survey are on the IN website, but you probably already know the answer.   NOT VERY CONNECTED!

So as a leader, you need to find methods like the SCBS, or other types of sociogramatic tools to know if your efforts are making a difference.  This is not only essential for you to know, but to shift the paradigm from micro to macro.   

Stay tuned to this blog to find ways and means to promote and evaluate macro change.