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Community Contribution

Three Solutions for Getting Teams to Actually Use their Data

Nov 05, 2018
Monalisa Salib, Kristin Lindell, Amy Leo, Kat Haugh

There is a growing body of evidence suggesting that people struggle to actually use data and evidence to inform their decisions. While there are a number of reasons for this, one of the main reasons is that teams and organizations often fail to internalize the data and evidence they have. If people don’t interpret or reflect upon their data, they are much less likely to use it to inform their decisions. Through our experience, we know that facilitating fun and engaging group reflection is one way to ena ble teams to interpret their data, build team cohesion, and take collective action.

Below you’ll find summaries of three interactive approaches to data internalization that you can apply in your work. The three approaches are relevant to both qualitative and quantitative data and have been used by USAID LEARN to internalize and apply what we’ve learned from our data or help others we work with do the same.

Participants internalize data by developing the front page of a newspaper that highlights their key takeaways from the data.
Quotables: Participants internalize qualitative data by matching quotes to the stakeholder group to gain a deeper understanding of various perspectives. 
Madlibs: Participants internalize data by selecting the numbers they believe would accurately complete the sentence. 

You can find more detailed descriptions and facilitation plans for these approaches here.

We (Monalisa and Kristin) presented these approaches in a Humentum Conference session called "Let's Have Some Fun: Solutions for Actually Getting Teams to Use their Data" and recently heard from a session participant who tried the Headline approach.

She reported:

“The [headline] session was part of a wider block on capturing and leveraging project learning during close-out. I prepared a data placemat using selected information from an external end-of-project assessment. I divided the participants into three groups. All used the same placemat, but were thinking about different audiences when approaching the data interpretation/headlines exercise... After each group drafted their headlines, we posted them by category and had a plenary discussion of differences and similarities among the headlines and how reflecting on the target audience for the headline impacted the headline writing. The exercise went quite well and we had a very good plenary debrief, despite this being the first post-lunch session on Day 6 of a 6-day training!”

- Sarah Cashore, Sr. Advisor, Project Management Improvement, Catholic Relief Services

There are any number of approaches that can be used, but these are some of the easiest to understand if you're new to facilitation or helping others internalize data. Let us know if you try any of them, or if they inspire you to design one of your own!