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Ailsa Cook

Matter of Focus

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I have spent the past 20 years working to improve public services, with a particular focus on health and social care in my roles as an academic, consultant and now director of a technology company, Matter of Focus.

I am passionate about using evidence to support improvement and interested in how we can evaluate the difference that improvement programmes make, as well as the efficacy of specific improvement actions. Over the past five years, with Sarah Morton, I have developed a methodology for doing this, based on Contribution Analysis (a theory based approach to evaluation) and action research. At the heart of our approach is working with teams to develop an outcome map to express their contribution to improving outcomes. This outcome map sits between a logic model and a driver diagram and we have found it to be a helpful in opening up new possibilities for programme evaluation with a range of improvement teams across different settings. Our approach is supported by our own software OutNav.

In developing our approach and OutNav I have built closely on previous learning including:

  • leading a national improvement programme to re-orientate organisations to the outcomes important to people using services. The Talking Points: Personal Outcomes Approach is widely used across Scotland and beyond.
  • leading the MSc in Integrated Service Improvement at Edinburgh University.
  • my academic programme of research into outcomes based approaches and public service reform.

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