In Pursuit of Quality: IMPACT at the 2018 CQI Community Conference

Alexis “Ali” Carella, Ph.D.

I recently attended the conference “In Pursuit of Quality: Building a Dynamic CQI  (Continuous Quality Improvement) Culture” in Champaign, IL. I particularly enjoyed Rella Kapowitz‘s, author of The Data Playbook, keynote address on building a data culture. She spoke about how to minimize the dominant “data is overwhelming” frame and re-introduce the frame as “data is a valuable asset.” Some of her suggestions for how to do this included: finding data champions, teaching the language of data, fostering relationships between data authors and consumers, engaging in regular on-boarding and training, being realistic about how long change takes, making data fun, and always keeping your north star in plain sight. I learned a good deal from Rella about how to effectively frame data stories using context and accessibility that will influence my daily work here at The Social IMPACT Research Center. 

Another few takeaways worthy of sharing came from Brad Kolar‘s keynote on the most important competencies for being data-driven. Brad shared the following tips:
  • 1-1-1 rule: when writing/presenting data we should always have one idea per sentence, one theme per paragraph, and one decision per email or presentation. A lot of research in cognitive behavioral psychology supports the notion that simplicity drives understanding.

  • 5 second rule: If it takes someone more than five seconds to understand your point, it gives them more time to contaminate it with their bias. For this reason, always be prepared to explain your point and proof in a quick five seconds.

  • Context: Numbers do not create meaning. Context creates meaning. First, make people interested by explaining the problem. Second, make people care by explaining the impact. Third, make people anticipate the solution you’re about to introduce by explaining the driver.
Continuous quality improvement can feel like a luxury when working in a fast-paced non for profit such as Heartland Alliance, but it must be prioritized for us to maintain our high-quality services and research. It is one thing to be data-driven, it is another thing to be data-driven and continuously working towards improvement.

Ali is a Senior Research Associate with Heartland Alliance’s Social IMPACT Research Center