Yesterday we kicked off our annual fall Learning Community, convening with teams from our eight Integration Initiative sites from cities across the country. The Learning Community is one step on our larger “Journey to Results.” Teams gathered in Dallas for two days to focus on unlocking how to get, use and share data to continuously improve and get dramatically better results for low-income people, faster.
Before we kick off Day 2, we stepped back to reflect on the conversation from Day 1 and to share major takeaways that have come up so far.
What Does it Take to Use Data to Drive Results?
We started the day with a Data Walk, in which data from sites was mounted on the walls and Learning Community participants had the opportunity to walk around, view what outcomes other sites have committed to work toward and their supporting data.
From there, we worked to Chart the Map! Teams spent an hour and half examining and discussing their goals and their data in order to clarify their 3-6 year outcomes, understand what data opportunities and barriers they face as a team, and identify possible next steps.
The teams surfaced challenges, gaps and opportunities to using data to drive results. So we focused next on “Removing Roadblocks,” learning from others to stay the course. Teams were paired with another community to brainstorm solutions around their data challenges.
Across the whole day, we held a core question in our minds: How do you mobilize people with data? So, to wrap-up the day, Eric Martin from Adaptive Change Advisors presented on the adaptive challenges associate with using data to drive change.
Our site partners learned alongside one another, surfaced common themes and challenges, and brainstormed solutions. A few key takeaways rose to the top. We now want to share them with you:
Data can be framed in many ways. For example, an effort might focus on increasing average income versus employment rates. Perhaps there is something valuable about developing some standardization across sites working on similar strategies so that sites can benefit from each other’s learning more directly.
It is easy to talk about data in the abstract. When teams get down to the nitty gritty, there are policy, relationship and geographical barriers, among others, to driving the change they want to see. Intermediaries can benefit from better understanding the nuance of these barriers in order to more effectively support collective impact work.
Many of the major data challenges sites presented were technical challenges associated with disaggregating data to the resolution they need, changing expectations and meeting funders’ requirements. By better understanding what the real challenges are, we as a social change field can more effectively target our materials to help unlock opportunities to overcome them.
There are many, real technical problems associated with using data to continuously improve. However, the most difficult challenges that practitioners often face are adaptive challenges that have more to do with understanding how to manage the sense of loss and fear that others feel when asked to work differently.
We will share more takeaways soon, but if you attended and have any to add, or these resonate with data challenges you face, please share your thoughts in the comment section and keep the conversation going!