By the time I hit publish on this post, it may already be 2020 where you live. HAPPY NEW YEAR to our friends and colleagues in Australia, Japan, India, and anywhere east of Riyadh and Istanbul. For the rest of our US-based team, we still have a few hours to finish up our task lists, our cleaning, and our blog posts before heading out for the night [actually staying in and eating Doritos with 5-year-olds].
We here are the Wandersman Center managed to cram a bunch into the final month of the decade. First, we finally put out our Readiness Building Guide. This effort was the culmination of a massive amount of thinking and writing over the past year, informed greatly bu our experiences working on sexual assault prevention in the military with colleagues at the RAND Corporation. Read all about it and download it at the following link.
I read a lot of books. Here’s my ranking for 2019, from best to worst. There a lot of business books here because a) we have a business, and b) we want to tap into the broader literature to better understand how we can build momentum in organizations. After all, humans have been implementing organization change for at least 12,000 years. Let’s not limit ourselves to the last decade of implementation science literature.
If I had to summarize all these books into one phrase: Be open and honest about your work, or, as the Bard says:
This above all: to thine own self be true
The New York Times recently published an article about inequality. Recent evidence suggests that the differences in income do not match measures of differences in actual skills, intelligence, personality traits. In other words, most low-wage workers are underpaid, and many of the highest-paid professionals are overpaid according to these metrics.
“The average African-American adult with a graduate degree demonstrates the same level of cognitive ability as the average person in the top 1 percent of income. Yet 99 percent of African-Americans with graduate degrees do not have incomes high enough to be in the top 1 percent.”
The authors identified several factors contributing to this inequality, including well-connected interest groups manipulating markets for their constituencies’ benefit, professional organizations blocking access to jobs by requiring credentials to perform specific tasks, and zoning boards blocking access to housing markets perpetuating social segregation.
The year was 1999. Cher’s Believe and TLC’s No Scrubs were burning up the charts. It was the best movie year ever. Gas cost $1.17 a gallon. And, an intrepid group of young evaluators came up with Getting to Outcomes.
As long as I’ve known about evaluation, I’ve known about David Fetterman. Together with my colleague, Abe Wanderman, they developed the field of empowerment evaluation in the mid to late 1990s. However, David also draws from an anthropological background when he approaches research and evaluation. Recently, he published the 4th edition of his Ethnography text. Knowing nothing about this area of his work (nor having read previous editions), I dove in.
David took the cover photo himself on his way to base camp!This isn’t a book review. I don’t have any referent point with which to judge the quality of the except that I know David generally does quality work
Instead, I’d like to zero in on two methodological topics that stuck out: Unobtrusive Measures and the Analysis of Qualitative Data. This first article in a two-article series deals with the unobtrusive measures.
Our team recently got back from the annual American Evaluation Association's conference in Minneapolis, MN. AEA is the premier conference for evaluators and methodologists who work in the social and governmental sectors to share their recent innovations, results, and lessons learned. Like all great conference, the action happens both inside and outside of the sessions. We have many more comment and reflections, but we first wanted to share some work that we presented on the SCALE initiative.
An organization has a thing they are trying to do. They then need to train up and support the people within that organization to do that thing. In my case, the thing was coach a bunch of five and six-year-olds. And, like organizations, my readiness to coach varied throughout the season. And, like well-functioning organizations, I was able to use data to help monitor performance and improve.
This past month has been a whirlwind for the Wandersman Center. In addition to being on opposite sides of the globe this past month for two of the premier implementation conference...
Prevention. We (mostly) all agree that it is important. Still doing prevention is hard. And when you are trying to implement prevention programming for complex, multi-factorial problems - like sexual assault and harassment - it can be really hard.
As we close out a productive summer with many kiddos headed back to school (or starting school in the first place), we take stock of what’s happened over the past month.
Transitioning the RWJF Work to a New Phase. Over the past year, we were generously funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to research the application of the R=MC^2 readiness model in four different settings.
Evaluation doesn’t have to be a long, drawn out process. Sometimes you might want to find out quickly how a training, meeting, or learning session is working. We’ve got a tool for that!
The Rapid Feedback Form (RFF) is a short and sweet assessment that captures how gains in knowledge, perceived session value, and perceived practical applicability. We’ve also added some modifications to account for training-of-trainers settings.
The great Paul Howard of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) and I wrote this a few months ago to talk about our use of the Critical Moments Methodology for the American Evaluation Association's Community Psychology week. In the hustle and bustle, I neglected to cross post here. So enjoy!
Our team and colleagues published a brief for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services a few years ago (HHS; Dymnicki, Wandersman, Osher, Grigorescu, & Huang, 2014) which defines the policy implications of readiness. There are three implications listed which we believe are very important for the implementation of readiness! In this blog, we discuss these implications, what they are, and what you can do.
**note: this post was written by Lauren Hurley, an undergraduate working with us in the Spring 2019 semester. It's critically important that implementation ideas be accessible to a broad audiences. This is one student's translation of some earlier work we did.***
Dr. Pam Imm and colleague Jamie Keith from Alabama, made their way to Manitoulin Island to do a GTO training for eight First Nations communities.
We know what’s important for implementation success: consistent leaders, a supportive environment, the ability to see early wins, a charismatic champion, and many other elements. But are all these things important ALL the time? No organization has the time, funds, and buy-in to consistently measure and build all these elements. So when should we spend time boosting the champion’s visibility, versus trying to build up relationships between organizations?
On January 10th, partners for a statewide family engagement in schools initiative, the Carolina Family Engagement Center, gathered in a cozy conference room at the University of South Carolina. Participants represented a variety of organizations and agencies devoted to supporting the children and families in the state, including the South Carolina Department of Education, SC Center for Fathers and Families, SC Children’s Trust, the University of South Carolina Parent Advocacy Group, The Consortium for Latino Immigration Studies, Family Connection, PASOs, SC School Improvement Council, and The Center for Excellence at FMU, to name a few. The purpose of this meeting was to provide an initial orientation to Getting To Outcomes® (GTO) and the R=MC2 organizational readiness model, both of which will be used to help schools improved the ways in which they engage families
Making good things happen in organizations like schools requires more than a good idea. The idea needs to be supported, implemented, and evaluated with quality. In Abe's 2009 article, Four Keys to Success (Theory, Implementation, Evaluation, and Resource/System Support): High Hopes and Challenges in Participation), he talks about the components that are needed to promote success.
Yesterday, our team met with representatives from Serve and Connect to talk about how readiness could be applied to scaling and improving their work in police-community relations. Using readiness is already a part of a project they are implementing in the 29203 area code in Columbia, SC that looks to improve youth outcomes.