What data do you look at?

by Anne Yurasek on February 21, 2008

106897254_e972f95484_m We have recently taken on a project that promises to answer questions I have had for a very long time.  We are working in partnership with a capacity building entity that is interested in encouraging systemic approaches to community problems.  Over the work of the last of couple of years, we have realized that these kinds of solutions to community problems emerge only where there is a strong culture of data and evidence and we now have a small grant to explore some of the organizational antecedents that have to be in place for such a culture to materialize. 

We are recruiting agencies to participate so I have been having conversations with CEO’s of mid to large nonprofits about how data and evidence inform decision making in their organizations.  Across the group of interviews, I would have to say that I see a disturbing pattern.   The most often mentioned arena of closely examined data by CEOs is financial.  The least often mentioned and the arena where the least amount of data is routinely available is program quality data. 

If you read the literature on organizational learning, you quickly discover that one of the most powerful facilitating factors in organizations that learn from their practice is the presence and leadership of the CEO in examining what the organization does well and what the organization does poorly.  It is the CEO that has to make addressing quality measurement important and it is the CEO that ultimately determines whether the rest of the organization values quality measurement. 

As a CEO, what do you look at routinely?   

Photo provided by interrupt via Flickr

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