Learning to Fly: Don’t Let Your Government Programs Collect Dust - (Archived)

Dave Glantz, Director Research Services, Market Connections, Inc.

NASA recently issued a report about how it failed to utilize a lessons–learned system to assess the outcomes of a program, which was also highlighted on GovLoop in the form of a pretty dynamic conversation.

Reading this piece, and being a research professional in the government space, I was reminded of the vital role research plays in government program performance.  Agencies need the right tools and insights for both assessing performance and taking the actionable steps toward improvement. These tools exist in the form of research that delivers actionable recommendations.

Without actionable program performance research, you run the risk of missing key performance goals and leaving government programs to collect dust. Even contractors can lead the charge on this: they, too, can use actionable intelligence to inform strategies, processes and implementation of government programs.

In order to do this, there are two elements to address. First, agencies need to invest some up-front time in the following three areas:

  • Know the Problem Upfront: As an agency or program with a business need or problem to solve, you need to identify the goals you want to reach, and the challenges you want to overcome. The more clearly and specifically you can articulate your objectives to your research provider, the more precisely the researcher will be able to address your needs.
  • Know Your Proposed Outcomes:  The researcher needs to be fully briefed on what decisions you will make as a result of the data. What are you prepared to act on?
  • Get Buy-In:  Get as much buy-in as possible from your colleagues and higher-ups, so your team is on board with the idea of conducting research to address your needs. Your research provider can even help you socialize the idea, purpose and research process internally.

All of this up-front work lays the groundwork for speedier and more decisive implementation of both key strategy and tactics when the research delivers those actionable Nelle isole oltre la metà degli assegni è sotto i mille euro, mentre nel Nord Ovest un pensionato su cinque è sopra 2mila euro di RAFFAELE RICCIARDI recommendations.

The second element falls into the hands of the researcher – but is still tied closely with the client.  The researcher has to consider the objectives, choose the methodology best suited to meet those objectives (i.e., focus group, survey, etc.) and then design properly worded and scaled questions to minimize bias.

Depending on the objectives, the questions may identify possible opportunities and barriers that are hindering an agency from meeting its performance goals.

Rather than just providing a sea of data and numbers, the research should clearly discuss all of the outcomes and implications – answering the ‘so what?’ factor – as well as provide specific recommendations.

By keeping your objectives front and center at every stage of the process, identifying the relevant targets of the research, and ensuring you approve of the line of questioning before the researcher goes into field, the researcher can eliminate the chance of giving you a report that will end up collecting dust on the shelf.

So, if you wanted to learn how to fly an airplane, what would be the best source of information? An exciting novel about famous aviators and how they persevered and triumphed?  Or a manual on building and piloting a certain type of aircraft, based on where you want to fly?

Clearly government agencies need a manual that contains the actionable insights that will allow their programs to take flight and reach their intended destinations.

And in today’s austere climate, there’s no room for programs that are ultimately grounded and collect dust.

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