OMA Recap: Making Evaluation (Mostly) Painless
I drank the kool-aid a long time ago. I love data! (Duh.) But it can be intimidating or weird or simply take too much time and effort for a lot of people. So, when you work with me I do my best to make accessing, considering, and using data little easier for ya. Typically I embed these ideals into my practice - you might not even realize I'm sneaking this into your projects (hey, no complaints yet!). At the Oregon Museum Association Conference in Hood River, OR earlier this month I had the opportunity to do all of this work in a more direct way. I facilitated a session called “Data-Driven Decision Making: Making Evaluation (Mostly) Painless.”
The goal of the session was to help attendees feel a bit more confident in using or activating the data they already had. We began with a simple overview of how collecting data can help you by thinking about the life-cycles of projects. We followed by identifying data sources that already exist in almost every organization, and ways to up the data collecting ante if desired. Then we talked specifics and played with tools that can help you push past the surface of totals, averages, medians, etc. to have data that tells a more nuanced story. Time was also dedicated to two of what I think are the most important topics in evaluation: 1) ensuring data is collected ethically and responsibly, and 2) thinking about how your data will be reported or shared so that it has use and relevance.
It was a wonderful hour of conversation, thoughtful questions, and collaborative learning. It was exciting to hear the energy in the room from museums and heritage sites across the state who want to deepen their capacity building. More than anything, I hope this short session helped practitioners feel like they don’t need to call in the consultants when they want to make data-driven decisions. We’re there as a resource when you want to go deeper or think bigger, but you can do a lot on your own too.