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Choosing How to Track Progress

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This is one of a series of guides for collaborative environmental research and advocacy projects. "Choosing How to Track Progress" begins with the goals that the garden members prioritized for the upcoming year in the previous workshop, helps you quantify the goals into objectives, guides you to specify what you're going to do towards achieving these objectives, and points you towards fun and "field-proof" measuring activities to track your progress. This guide covers options for how to do this either on paper or in an online spreadsheet.

Planning this event

This workshop is actually a set of three activities.

Overview of the three activities:

  • Activity 1: Set aside an hour for you to review the goals prioritized by the garden members at the end of the previous workshop, Setting Goals. By the end of this activity, you will have created a draft matrix of goals, objectives, programs, and metrics.
  • Activity 2: Call a small meeting with the most involved gardeners to review and iterate on your draft.
  • Activity 3: Call a meeting with the entire group to share the draft matrix. Look ahead a couple weeks and pick a time for a 2 hour session that is convenient for the most people. Find a space -- it may be useful to be indoors with enough chairs, restrooms, and some wall space, etc -- and send out invites.

Materials to have on hand for Activity 1:

  • Depending on whether the leadership team prefers to work on paper or online, either:
    • Draw a four-column x 5-row table on paper and xerox it for each garden leader
    • Set up an online spreadsheet you can all use, perhaps in GoogleSpreadsheets or in ethercalc

Materials to have on hand for Activity 2:

  • Simply have your draft matrix ready to share with a small group

Materials to have on hand for Activity 3:

  • If you've drafted your matrix on paper, redraw it on large chart paper and tape to the wall.
  • If you've drafted your matrix online, you may want to project it or ask people to bring their own devices (or have several on hand) so that people can view it on their own screens.

Activity 1:

This activity is designed for you to do individually. Here are the steps you will preform:

  • List your goals
  • Quantify your goals into specific objectives (be specific and set numerical targets when possible)
  • Ask yourself: "what will we actually do to achieve this objective?" This is the program.
  • Choose how to measure progress towards your objectives (each way of measuring will be called a "metric"). Review the How-To guides on the main Garden Toolkit page. There are two main types of data collection methods -- photographic documentation (aerial mapping in visible / infrared) or manual tracking using the FiveBoroughFarm toolkit.

Here is a model for how these four elements can be organized into a matrix:

Goal Objective Program Metric
Goal 1 . . .
Goal 2 . . .
Goal 3 . . .

Here's an sketch example that omits the first column and instead begins with Objectives:


Here's an example from an actual garden in Newark that includes multiple objectives for each goal, and adds a notes column at the end:


Activity 2:

Bring the draft matrix to review with your most involved collaborators.

  • Carefully read each objective to assess whether they set realistic and desired targets.
  • Talk through each program you've designed to make sure the workplan makes sense.
  • Consider the metrics you've chosen to track your progress as you will have to be either manually tracking or photographing in some way throughout the season to collect the data.

Once the matrix reflects your intentions fairly well, it's time to schedule a meeting to present it back to the whole group (Activity 3).

Activity 3:

This activity is about reviewing the matrix with the whole group. As facilitator, plan to explain the matrix to the group and then open up for discussion.

  • Begin with restating the goals that everyone had prioritized in the Setting Goals workshop, and show them along the left edge of the matrix.
  • Second, explain how these goals have been quantified into specific objectives.
  • Third, show that each objective has an action, or program design, that's been designed to achieve the objective.
  • Finally, discuss how we will track our progress using metrics -- either the photography or the manual tracking.

Once the group has come to an agreed on framework for the year's work, publish this matrix to your group's wiki page by following these steps:

Looking ahead to next steps:

The next workshop will be to look ahead and roughly schedule the major events for the year.