“Data-driven decision-making” sounds good in theory; in practice, there can be a long road between having data and actually using it to drive decisions. While it’s up to each program to find ways to incorporate data back into daily practice, you’re not alone. All kinds of organizations across professional fields are grappling with similar problems: Once we collect data, how do we use it? As new frameworks, recommendations, and best practices for data-driven decision-making develop, our challenge as a field is to find ways to apply these paradigms within youth-serving programs.

We’ve collected some helpful articles to get you up to speed. As you read, start thinking about how these concepts relate to the values framework, logic model, or theory of change your program already uses to plan activities and guide your day-to-day work with young people. How can you use data collection and evaluation results to reinforce your program’s core values and activities?

How can we make data more meaningful? | The Guardian
How can we make evaluation meaningful for the young people we collect data from? This article describes creative projects that organizations and groups have used to make data collection engaging. We love this article because we believe strongly that data collection can be fun and relevant instead of a distraction or chore.

Make Learning Matter: Become a Learning Organization | The Balance
Just like young people, organizations have the best chance to succeed when they are continually growing and taking on new ways of thinking. This article introduces the concept of a learning organization and describes the basics of how those organizations operate. We like this article because it gives great ideas about how leaders can model these qualities to elicit growth among their staff.

Is Yours a Learning Organization? | Harvard Business Review
How can you tell if your organization is a learning organization? This article describes a learning organization from the staff perspective, so you can compare it to your own experience and think about the kinds of changes you might want to make. We like how practical the suggestions for leadership are.

Continual Learners And Learning Organizations | Forbes
The demand of serving young people can leave little time for organizations to nurture their most important asset: their staff! This article provides four specific ways to support the continual learner. We love the this article because the straightforward tips for leadership can be put into practice immediately.

Collective Impact | Stanford Social Innovation Review
This article highlights common elements of particularly effective collaborative efforts to address complicated social challenges and suggests the name “collective impact” for this type of initiative. The authors outline five elements of collective impact initiatives that differ from less structured collaboration. We love this article because its definition of a “shared measurement system” complements our own vision of what Hello Insight is and can become.