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Harvard Kennedy School

Leading Successful Programs: Using Evidence to Assess Effectiveness

HKS Leading Successful Programs: Using Evidence to Assess Effectiveness Participants
Apr 26—May 1, 2020
6 days
Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
USD 9100
USD 1516 per day

How it works


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In all organizations, managers like you are under increasing pressure to prove their programs—and, by extension, their leadership—are effective. But what constitutes reliable and valid evidence of effectiveness and how can it be generated to assess a program’s effectiveness? What data should be collected? How should managers use it?

Leading Successful Programs: Using Evidence to Assess Effectiveness is an executive program that will help you answer these critical questions. We will challenge you to rethink your programs' goals and reassess how you gather, evaluate and use data to determine their effectiveness. The curriculum will also equip you with the tools you need to design policy and implement more effective programs.

Better Decisions Mean Better Programs

Designed by Harvard Kennedy School faculty, Leading Successful Programs considers many types of evaluations—including design, process and impact—as well a wide range of methodologies. Special attention is paid to the use of data from evaluations and other types of evidence to help you provide better leadership and make more effective decisions about your programs.

In its goal to help you understand how to measure and evaluate program effectiveness, this one-week executive education program will equip you with:

  • A framework for thinking about various types of evidence—from benchmarking and performance measurement to impact evaluation—and their relationship to one another
  • Methods for analyzing administrative data to identify potential points for intervention to improve long-term goals
  • Tools to measure the effectiveness of your program as well as strategies for generating short- and longer-term assessments of the impact of your programs on participants
  • Tactics for integrating qualitative and quantitative data to assess a program's effectiveness
  • A deeper understanding of how to make decisions about the best way to spend your limited research budget


Leading Successful Programs: Using Evidence to Assess Effectiveness is a one-week executive program introducing managers to a set of tools and strategies for using evidence to evaluate the effectiveness of their programs.

You and your peers will immerse yourselves in a highly engaging, evidence-based learning environment that features a range of interactive activities, including case studies, discussions, exercises, presentations and readings. The curriculum provides an in-depth look at key aspects of understanding and implementing evidence-based strategies.

Further, this program makes extensive use of the case study method, which was pioneered at Harvard. Each case describes an actual situation and serves as a stimulus for you and your classmates to think through possible approaches and solutions to real-world problems. You'll reflect upon your professional experiences and meet daily in small groups and in class to discuss cases and exchange ideas.

The Leading Successful Programs curriculum will explore:

  • The big questions you need to ask about the effectiveness of programs in your organization
  • How to decide what data should be collected, and when
  • The kinds of evaluations and other forms of assessment you should conduct
  • The key methods to evaluate the impact of programs and when each should be used
  • How you should make decisions about which programs to assess
  • The role of randomized experiments in evaluating the impact of a program
  • How you can make sense of mixed method evaluations and then integrate quantitative and qualitative information to design and implement better programs

Who should attend

Leading Successful Programs is designed for leaders within organizations that either manage or fund programs designed to improve the well-being of people and communities.

Recommended applicants include senior-level managers, program directors, grant makers, chief operating officers or budget directors of:

  • Government agencies at the federal, state/province, county or city level
  • Nonprofits/NGOs
  • Private companies interested in corporate social responsibility
  • Foundations and their grantees
  • Multilateral institutions
  • Development banks
  • International aid agencies

The program is also designed for:

  • Consultants to nonprofits or government agencies
  • Legislative staffers working with committees
  • Legislators seeking ways of assessing evidence of program effectiveness


Dan Levy, Senior Lecturer in Public Policy and Faculty Chair of the Kennedy School's SLATE (Strengthening Learning and Teaching Excellence) Initiative, teaches courses in quantitative methods, policy analysis, and program evaluation. He currently serves as co-principal investigator of Transparenc...
Julie Boatright Wilson is the Harry Kahn Senior Lecturer in Social Policy. She is the Faculty co-Chair of two Harvard Kennedy School executive programs: Performance Measurement for Effective Management of Nonprofit Organizations (joint with Harvard Business School) and Leading Successful Social P...

Next dates

Apr 26—May 1, 2020
6 days
Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
USD 9100
USD 1516 per day

How it works

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