Hunter Consulting helps organizations in the social sector to deliver the results they promise.


Performance Management:  What you and your organization need to have, to know, and be able to do.

Founder and Consultant: David E. K. Hunter, Ph.D. 

My practice builds on about three decades of experience, in both the public and the nonprofit social sectors, using performance management to improve the quality and effectiveness of social services. As the Superintendent (CEO) of a State Psychiatric Hospital in Connecticut, my efforts led to improved hospital safety and lower patient length of stay while attaining, desired treatment outcomes that were clear and measurable (achieving a desired level of functioning as assessed on a simple scale, an increase in the that patients were able to sustain themselves in community-based living contexts). Subsequently, while working in philanthropy and then in my own consulting practice, I developed and continued to refine a new approach to working with nonprofit organizations, funders (both private and public), and government programs using Theory of Change and Performance Management Workshops to improve strategic performance management.

I have written and given presentations on various aspects of this work with a focus on how to create, invest in, and sustain social value in complex situations with diverse stakeholders.  A selection of these articles and public presentations are available for download in the RESOURCES section on this page.  Click here for an example of a Theory of Change Report (Blueprint for Success) that a nonprofit will develop through these workshops. It is presented here by permission of Summer Search, a national youth development organization offering a very creative program for inner city youths.

When all is said and done, performance management is about people, not data systems.  While a great deal of attention has been paid to the need to collect good data in order to manage organizational and programmatic performance, the simple truth is that data themselves are meaningless, and the systems that produce them are useless, if the data that are monitored are not subjected to review and analysis.  To perform consistently at high levels, organizations must schedule performance management meetings in which performance data (outputs, outcomes, and quality indicators) are considered, discussed, and ultimately transformed into information that informs decisions about what needs to be done.  The “secret sauce” of such meetings is resist the seductive pull of telling “ain’t it awful” stories and instead to answer four essential questions that drive performance in every context and regarding every issue:  

  • What do we need to do better?
  • What do we need to do more of?
  • What do we need to start doing (that we haven’t tried before)? 
  • What do we need to stop doing (that is not working or, even worse, is doing harm)?

It turns out that the key to managing performance is not fundamentally about investing in expensive data systems – it is about (a) having the courage to state clearly and specifically what our success look like to justify our organization’s continued existence, (b) to measure what we need to know in order to assess the degree to which we are succeeding, (c) to examine what we are doing, (d) to know in real time or as close to this as possible what’s happening as a result, (e) to decide what we need to make better whatever needs to improve. and (f) then act on it.

This brochure describes the series of elements in my approach to facilitating to theory of change workshops.