On the train to the Leapfrog week in Forres Madeline delivered a training exercise on Creative Evaluation. The Leapfrog team activity conveyed how important it is to clearly define an overall objective between partners at the start of a project to create an effective collaboration that meets both partners’ needs. Gaining an understanding of what dif­fer­ence and impact both partners wish to make from a project will inform the design of an evaluation process that is relevant, efficient, measures the right things and evidences the true value of a collaboration.

Setting relevant indicators can show the causality of what we did and the difference it’s making. We discussed how the setting of hard and soft measures to track progress of Leapfrog project requires careful consideration. Just because you can count something, doesn’t necessarily mean you should be measuring it as a target that indicates good progress towards achieving the overall objective.

To illustrate this Madeline used the example of Owls versus Indicators. Owls are a good indicator of a healthy forest and ecosystem. However the presence/​increase of owls should only be measured as an indicator of a healthy forest, rather than set as a target to work towards. This could skew how activities are designed as activities could start to be designed that focus on attracting more owls to the forest — rather than focus on creating the conditions that make for a healthy biodiversity in the forest. It was a timely piece of training delivered just as we are meeting and scoping several short and major Leapfrog projects with partners to help us distinguish what ia an owl and a true indicator of progress in the right direction.