TrueValueMetrics (TVM) does for the community what Management Information Systems (MIS) and accountancy does for corporate business ... in other words TVM provides a methodology for keeping score about socio-economic progress in a community ... a framework of data that suggests how well the game is being played and how things may be done better.
TVM has one characteristic that is very different from other systems to evaluate performance ... rather than looking at performance in the community from the perspective of the organization and the activities being funded ... TVM looks at performance from the perspective of the community and the people in the community. TVM is looking at performance in the community from the perspective of need in the community and the impact of activities on improving the situation in the community.
The TVM approach shows how vital it is for a community to have access to a full range of economic activities ... it shows that most single focus interventions will only succeed when they are done in parallel with other interventions that address other parts of the essential portfolio of economic activities.
What can TVM do for you? If your organization embraces TVM, you will gain a deep appreciation of how valuable your own work can be ... but probably learn that the work you do has relatively little impact compared with what it could be.
Your organization's work will be most valuable when you do what you do as well as possible ... and others do what they do as well as possible ... and nothing gets left undone.
The performance of your organization will be best ... and your donors will be the most satisfied, when multiple organizations are working together to help the community. One agenda ... one organization ... getting all the money is unlikely to get the best outcomes. A group of organizations collaborating around all the issues that must be addressed in the community will get a much better job done ... and TVM show how much bigger the impact is when there is collaboration than when there is not.
- What is this? How can this be? The TVM methodology shows something of the micro-economic behavior of the community ... and the complex array of linkages there are between sectors.
- What is accomplished if a malaria program helps a child survive malaria ... but then dirty water gives the child cholera and the child dies.
- What is accomplished if a child gets an education ... but then gets malaria and dies?
- What is accomplished if a child grows up healthy and gets an education ... but then cannot get a job.
- What is accomplished if the community grows more food ... but the road to market cannot be used because the bridge has fallen down.
- What is accomplished if there is economic prosperity ... but rival ethnic factions start fighting to achieve control of the benefits of prosperity
How does TVM work? The very short answer is that TVM acquires as much data as possible about the community .... gets the data organized as much as possible ... and puts it into a form that tells the story about problems, opportunities and progress in the community. Data acquisition is mainly about very simple matters ... but when aggregated, these data can tell a big story.
The data in the TVM system are both temporal ... to create time series ... and spatial to know what happens where.
TVM data are about not only the money performance ... such an amount of money was spent ... but also that this was done and the value or impact of this was thus and so.
People say that value is subjective and therefore cannot be quantified ... but TVM shows that value is too important to be ignored because quantification is not easy. TVM uses the concept of standard values ... similar to standard costs in corporate accountancy ... to start a process of quantifying value and including this in performance metrics.
For example ... high mortality is a bad outcome ... it should be, and is, possible to quantify an untimely death. Maybe the number for a 30 year old adult should be $100,000 ... or should it be $10 ... or should it be $50 million. The exact number is not the critical matter ... what is critical is that this mortality should be incorporated into a system so that this loss of value is on the record, reported, and steps to taken to improve future outcomes. Whether distance is measured in miles or kilometers does not really matter ... as long as we understand what we are doing. We need to measure the value loss associated with mortality ... death ... and make sure that there are interventions to reduce the losses.
For example .... what happens when crime rises. The cost of policing may rise as the authorities respond but this is not a sufficient measure of the socio-economic consequences of crime. Education suffers ... but how much? Housing values suffer ... but how much? Business investment suffers ... and jobs decline ... but how much? TVM shows how big these value changes are ... they are big ... and they are not yet part of any systematic system of credible socio-economic metrics
TVM and the modern world. TVM is simple at its core ... but modern technology makes it possible to do a lot of simple things and make sense of them. The technology that brought us Facebook and Twitter is going to be used to make TVM ubiquitous.
The business model for TVM is an Internet business model to the extent that is possible ... and supplemented by face to face training and conversations at all levels of society. Paid seminars will help fund the deployment of TVM ... some corporate sponsorship is being sought to ensure that the appropriate level of Internet infrastructure is available. Most important, however, is that the ideals of the TVM system are not compromised by the funding.