All the projects Usable Knowledge undertakes are collaborations. Working with you, we create the tools and techniques for measuring success. This may involve the design and implementation of a customized survey tool, a series of in-depth interviews or focus groups or an analysis of existing program records. It may mean helping you set up an evaluation infrastructure and then coaching you on how to collect and analyze results on your own. Whatever approach is best for you, we make sure it is scaled to fit within the resources you have available, and deployed efficiently, in way that minimizes interference with your mission. We have found that this approach generates excitement and enthusiasm throughout the organizations we work with. Its emphasis on organizational growth and stakeholder participation lessens the uncertainty and apprehension sometimes associated with more traditional models of assessment.
Designing and implementing an evaluation study is only half the story. Reporting the results is the other. The world is full of thirty page (or more) evaluation reports that were read once and then filed away. We measure success differently. Working with you, we identify the information needs of your stakeholders and then create a plan for distributing progress reports and findings to them. This may include the creation of a data book, a periodic newsletter, a blog, a series of in-person presentations — even a Flash presentation if that works best. The idea is that in order to be usable, knowledge needs to be presented in ways that are compelling to the multiple audiences that need to stay informed. We couldn’t call ourselves Usable Knowledge, if we offered anything less.
We are strong believers in collaboration. Why? Because you know your program better than anybody else — the people you serve, the goals you want to achieve and the questions you have about how what you do is working. At the same time though, we recognize that you need an evaluator who brings expertise and the commitment to drive your project forward. We suspect that you don’t want to learn the intricacies of questionnaire design, interviewing or data analysis. You want enough involvement so that you’re comfortable with the shape a project takes and sure that your questions will be answered. That’s how we see collaboration too. It’s a key component of our consulting process.