data analysis dissemination

Data vs. Information

In a recent technical assistance online meeting, I was talking with several community groups about various data collection and analysis related to their program implementation and intended outcomes. I raised the importance of sifting through all the various data in order to extract actionable information useful for the program staff, community stakeholders, and intended beneficiaries of the program. I was reminded of a past blog post from Seth Godin that I shared with them. Quite succinctly, he reminds us about the importance of disseminating evaluation findings that can both be understood and story-like.

When there’s simply data, it’s all noise. It’s impossible for a human being to absorb data without a narrative.

Once we figure out how to turn your features and ideas and benefits and effort into a story, though, it becomes information. And then we can act on it.

We have a story problem. All of us do. We’re not doing a good job of developing the empathy to turn all the data we’ve assembled into a story that others can understand.
clients dissemination hack

Evaluation Memo

Several clients have more than one evaluation project happening at the same time.  Evaluation project activities including data collection, analysis, and reporting differ for each of the projects. As a means to consolidate all of the activities in a monthly snapshot I developed the evaluation memo.

An evaluation memo is a monthly correspondence (1-3 pages) between myself and a client that initiates a dialogue that:

  • Recaps evaluation activities that occurred that month
  • Poses questions to clients that need responses for the evaluation to move forward
  • Requests additional documents, data, or information, and
  • Shares upcoming activities and deliverables related to our program evaluation work

The monthly evaluation memo serves as a running record of recent past evaluation work, upcoming evaluation work, and a current client to-do list to keep the evaluation moving forward and on-track.