Hi, I’m Jill Lipski Cain, a Managing Consultant here at IG. This month, I want to tell you about one of IG’s important tools in collaborative, participatory, utilization-focused evaluation projects—an emerging findings meeting.
In the spirit of partnership, we seek to honor and take advantage of the community expertise our client and their stakeholders bring to the table. This helps us incorporate context into the evaluation findings, and helps our client think more deeply about what they want to be able to say with this data and how they anticipate sharing it.
So, once data has been collected, we summarize the results and bring a group of stakeholders together to make meaning. We encourage our clients to be intentional and inclusive about who is present in this meeting—it’s a great time to bring together board members, people involved in designing the evaluation, people who will be using this information to make decisions, and even the broader community impacted by the client’s work. During the meeting, we’re ultimately answering the question “So what?” in a way that informs the reporting phase of our work together.
There are many ways to facilitate an emerging findings meeting; one way I like is a focused conversation. We first answer, “What words, percentages, phrases, etc. stood out to us in the results?” We then identify our reactions to the results by asking, “Where are we excited? Where are we concerned?” To interpret our reactions to the data, we explore, “What significance do these results have?” And finally, “What do these results tell us in response to our evaluation questions?” “What should we report to key audiences?” This conversation fosters shared awareness of the results and allows the group to be actively engaged with the meaning of the data before results are reported.