Expanding evaluation to enable true strategic communication: Beyond message tracking to open listening

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Future Directions of Strategic Communication, 2019, pp. 141 - 158
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Management writer Tom Peters noted that what gets measured is what gets done in organizations. Therefore, measurement and evaluation models and approaches provide insights into strategy. Furthermore, the most widely used approaches to evaluation are based on program logic models that identify objectives, planning, and inputs, as well as seeking to track outputs, outcomes and impact, thus affording insights into the origins of strategy and strategic intent as well, as its implementation. Given increasing focus on emergent strategy and participatory or networked strategy in place of internally predetermined strategy that is unilaterally focussed on an organization’ goals and objectives, this article critically reviews widely-used models for evaluation of communication to identify how well they support and enable broader contemporary approaches to organizational strategy and strategic communication. This analysis shows a narrow organization-centric focus on evaluating organizational messaging (one-way communication) directed at achieving organizational objectives in traditional evaluation models and calls for a more open, dynamic and expanded approach to facilitate two-way communication. Furthermore, in showing the important role of formative as well as summative evaluation, this analysis identifies a number of ways that evaluation of communication can inform organizational strategy and transform strategic communication.
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