Evaluating Your Youth Project 1: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly


One of the top reasons youth projects fizzle, fail and die is that they are not regularly checked against purpose and evaluated against resources.

We start things off guns blazing but have only packed enough ammo for the initial shock campaign – so we get stuck in youthwork no-mans land covered in sweat, blood and tears wondering what to do, how to control things and most importantly – which way is out?

Over the next couple of weeks I’m going to outline three methods to evaluate a youth project:

1. The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (GBU)

2. SWOT (or Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats)

3. Purpose & Place

So kicking off today with…

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.

I’m starting with this because it’s pig easy to remember and implement! You can do this for hours or you can do this for ten minutes; in fact GBU is used as a regular part of my weekly project debriefs.

Simply put it means:

– What was good?

– What wasn’t so good?

– What else is worth mentioning but we can’t decide whether it was good or not?

GBU is observational first and foremost: What did you see; objectively, what happened.

What Was Good?

The G. This – as with all stages of GBU – is deliberately a broad category. GBU is by nature an organic analytical tool that creates open conversation not closed categories. Good is – what struck you as being useful, helpful, fun, enjoyable, memorable, a right choice, a piece of divine providence or something that can be built on.

Not everyone is going to agree and some folk are going to argue that what felt good to one person was horrible for someone else. And that’s fine! This is there to be a basic conversation starter to keep things on the table.

What Was Bad?

The B. In all evaluation methods you need disclaimers – with the bad what we’re talking about is areas to improve and grow. We need to be careful not to be too judgmental or personal. Key words are ‘constructive’ and ‘objective.’

The bad is the bucket to put areas that didn’t go so well, or ‘it would have been nice if… but..’, also the areas that we’re not firing on all jets yet, or the needs we still have etc. It’s sometimes a good idea in this section to talk about what solutions might be necessary.

What Was Ugly?

The U. Nice and simple – this is a great way to break tension from the bad. It’s a convenient ‘agree to disagree’ category and an area to bring up potential ideas. U gives a bucket to put all the things we wanted to say but don’t really register as good or bad.

Oddly the Ugly category tends to be the one that generates most conversation and ideas.

So get on with it!

It takes us about ten minutes to do GBU after three of my weekly projects. We check up on each other, have good conversations and it fuels our prayer time. Well worth it! And – if someone takes notes you can get together each term and look for patterns and suggest changes.

Good fun, easy to do and could potentially save a youth project!

Next time: SWOT.

Flyby Youth Work Book Reviews


My first youthwork related youthwork podcast on my youthwork blog… WHOOHOO!

“Flyby Book Reviews” – 30 seconds on three youth work books. I have read about 40 books on youth work so I’ll keep doing these until I get through all of them.

A flyby review is simply there to help you make a basically informed decision what to pick up off the shelf. It’s not in detail, its just a ‘here’s basically what you’ll find.’

If you like more detail on any of the books mentioned, I’ll be happy to do a longer review – just comment or email and ask! 🙂