Example slides from our Jamboard. People added sticky notes during the activity

Getting people to learn (intentionally) together during a pandemic has been a challenge to say the least. But let me tell you…there is hope! Some of the best feedback I’ve gotten from a data discussion came during a virtual data workshop last month with our program team:

“This was incredibly interactive and engaging! LOVED the structure of this meeting!”

The data discussion was so effective and so uplifting that I need to share what we did and how we did it.

One of my go-to team learning activities is a data gallery. It orients many people to a lot of…

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Dive Into Design

When you remodel your kitchen, you don’t just start tearing out countertops and pulling up floorboards. Like a home remodel or construction project, a performance measurement system requires a solid design before breaking ground. Most performance measurement systems require some design work to configure the system for your needs. This might take a few hours or a few months depending on the platform you have selected and the complexity of your programs.

The data system design is similar to an architect’s plan. When our friends were remodeling their backyard, the architect asked questions to understand the scope of the project…

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Building a better performance measurement system requires vision, a plan, a partner, and…the focus of this post…the ka ching ka ching! Tapping into philanthropic support for your project is not going to be easy, but it is possible.

Raising funds for your performance measurement system will provide you with the one-time, up front capital you likely need to bring your vision to life. I learned this first-hand talking with nonprofit leaders about their performance measurement systems. I was struck by their frustration and lack of joy as they shared with me how they collect data on their most vital services…

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Identify the Platform / Vendor

If you are in the position of rolling out a new performance measurement system, be prepared for some sleepless nights. What will bring you comfort is a great partner who understands your business needs and works with you to design, configure, and train your staff to utilize it well. Choosing the right platform is as important as choosing the right partner to bring your vision to life.

The Great Debate: Closed vs. Open API

In many cases, the company that sells you the technology is the same as the company who will configure it to meet your nonprofits’ needs. Performance measurement systems fall into two categories: Closed…

Step 2: Scope the Work

If you like the order of “Plan, Do, Check, Act” with an emphasis on ‘Plan’ then I’d bet my bottom dollar you will love this step. If you’re more a “Fire, Ready, Aim” type then get ready to step outside of your comfort zone — because this might be the most important step in the process of building a truly better performance measurement system!

How you scope the work for designing and implementing new data system will greatly influence your success.

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Step 1: Cast a Vision for Change

Change is hard…for most people. At times, I struggle to understand the resistence. After all, I have been known to change everything in my life at once — graduate college, get married, move across the country, start a new job. Yup, that all happened in the span of two months. (Perhaps) surprisingly, I thrived. I was optimistic and seeing endless opportunity and potential for the future. Yet, I know that embracing change is not the norm.

Whatever the mix of biology and socialization, we are hardwired to resist change. I see it in my 6-month old, as well as parents…

Photo by Lukas

When I joined Boys & Girls Clubs of the Peninsula I had NO idea how much time internal “evaluation” staff spend collecting, analyzing, and reporting on simple measures related to program operations — students enrolled or exited, daily attendance, services delivered, and on and on. This is data I had taken for granted as a consultant who spent most of my time focused on measuring quality and outcomes of complex initiatives.

Unfortunately, this means nonprofit evaluators spend little time actually answering evaluative questions about programs (e.g., what progress are we making, and why?) and are more often scrambling to put…

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I don’t recall a time when a client literally yelled at me. But I’ve had plenty of moments where people critically (and unproductively) questioned the validity of data, findings, recommendations. It hurts; stops me in my tracks. Can you relate?

Even the most accomplished entrepreneurs and CEOs have had experiences like this. Julia Hartz, co-founder and CEO of Eventbrite in a podcast with the humorous and clear-minded entrepreneur and venture capitalist Reid Hoffman recalls an experience as a barista at a local coffee shop in Santa Cruz — she was 14. She says her “biggest lesson was”…

“This woman would…

Creating Using Quozio.com

Visions matter. They inspire. They clarify goals. A solid vision gives meaning to even mundane, yet necessary, tasks — data cleaning anyone?

A vision statement is “A description of the world as it would exist if the organization were to succeed in achieving its grandest aspirations” (thank you Bridgespan). Excellent vision statements toe the line. You need to believe that the possibility exists to achieve it, and yet shoot for the stars.

As a strategy, evaluation, and organization learning consultant I learned that you can apply a vision statement to anything. Need inspiration for the product or program you are…

Getting started in a new job is never easy. What are the keys to success?

Ecocycle Mapping Activity for Impact & Evaluation Team — Week 1

As I prepared to leave consulting and join the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Peninsula I asked a few people for advice, and here’s what they said:

  1. Put relationships first
  2. Don’t make any significant decisions in the first 90 days
  3. Identify the home run and knock it out of the park!

Great advice. Now I’m six months in. Time flies. So how did it go?

Put Relationships First

Absolutely essential. Coming into a new organization from the outside is never easy, especially in a leadership position. Those of us who lean toward the introverted side of the spectrum can…

Katelyn P Mack

Social impact strategist | Data geek | Lover of learning | VP Impact & Evaluation @ Boys & Girls Clubs of the Peninsula | Previously @ FSG

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