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DATA to Learn, Think, Innovate & Act

Is your group spinning data circles?

Chasing your research tail?

Getting no-where statistically fast?

Time to change that up! We’ve been there and we’ve found ways to move beyond.

Maybe you have a slew of information resulting from an interactive community event (like a world cafe) or the latest socio-economic statistics or Early Development Instrument results or a focus group report. Take ANY of these sources (or even better take all of these) and move forward with informed meaningful action.

It can be overwhelming, so break your approach down. Try these 4 steps:

Step One: Gathering

This is the process of “becoming” aware. Consider your data’s origin. What information will help give you a well rounded (or multi dimensional) view of the issue at hand? Poke holes in information. Consider more than one source of information and many perspectives. “Triangulation” is a term that means if you can make a point with 3 very different pieces of data – the conclusion is much more credible. This step may include seeking out additional information from focus groups, interviews, stories, and statistics. Learn together!

Step Two: Sorting and Making Meaning

This is the time to chunk up complex data and simplify what you have gathered in Step One. Here you discover and seek the clarity required that leads to a shared understanding and readiness for next steps. How? Our preference is to have people interact with the information. Don’t rush to conclusions but ask questions, play around with ideas and stay open. We use activities that include sorting, challenging assumptions and asking why. Think together!

Step 3: Generating Ideas

You have gathered information and made meaning from it, now is the time to switch thinking to generative conversations and possibility creation. Get ready for some sparks and enlist lots of participatory, original thinking. If you want new ideas and new ways of solving problems, try new approaches to generating ideas – be playful, creative and push the status quo. Innovate together!

If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got.    ~Albert Einstein

 Step 4: Making Decisions

This is the step required to actually start moving forward with action. Here your group sets goals, outlines clear strategies and commits to them. Make collective decisions that are rich, full, detailed and informed. The amount that you leverage group strengths often predicts the sustainability of the action. Consider co-creating the criteria for shared decision making. Act together!

That’s it. Really. Truly. These 4 steps can provide you with the direction you need to move forward and make good use of information. But no-one says it’ll be easy…just worth it!

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