Global Impact Study: Montpellier workshop report

Last March I was lucky enough to join the Global Impact Study team members as they gathered to discuss impact indicators and the project’s approach to communications knowledge sharing. Lucky because this is an important project that involves an amazing group of people. Plus we met in Montpellier, France. First time back to the motherland!

I spoke about our proposed approach to communications and knowledge sharing. You can read about that and download the presentation on the Global Impact Study website. It’s been tough to work out how to do open research — specifically how much to share about process and learning. (So yes my definition of open research includes working transparently, not just sharing findings, instruments, and datasets at the end.) Also it is anxiety-provoking to stop doing the work and write about doing the work. Like I’m doing now!

All of that by way of an excuse… I’m finally sharing this workshop report (download PDF, 4MB). It’s a personal account for those who were not able to attend. I’ve tried to give a sense of the flavor of the meeting and the range of topics and issues that came up. This is a large and complex project, presenting many challenges — from the methodological to the administrative. I did my best not to air dirty laundry, but also not to sanitize what I heard. I hope this document is useful for others as they work on similar projects or in similar domains.

IDRC is one of the funders of the Global Impact Study. When I worked there, I was lucky enough to get sent to training on Outcome Mapping. The training was led by Terry Smutylo. He pulled out his guitar and sang this song: the Output Outcome Downstream Impact Blues. (During a training at a GOVERNMENT development agency — think about that for a minute…) Listen and you’ll see why I think IDRC and Terry are the coolest coolest folks ever. See? They even put the song on their server! Ooops… looks like it’s been removed… good thing I took a screenshot so y’all believe me.

There’s also a powerpoint of the lyrics to Impact Blues.

Contribution, not attribution! After listening you’ll also understand why I find the naming of our study kinda ironic. Chalk one up to diverse opinions within organizations. Amen to that ;)