Improving mutual consultation among key stakeholders to optimize the use of research evidence

Community member post by Allison Metz

Alison Metz
Allison Metz (biography)

Processes to support the uptake of research evidence call for each of the key stakeholders to consider the challenges faced by other key stakeholders in making good use of research evidence. When stakeholders have the opportunity to consider perspectives other than their own, they will generally have a broader understanding of the problem space, and, in turn a greater commitment to co-creating prototypes for improving research translation.

Let’s consider a real world example in New York City’s public child welfare system. New York City’s Administration for Children’s Services operates what is believed to be the world’s largest and most diverse array of evidence-based and evidence-informed preventive programs in any municipal child welfare jurisdiction. This required – and continues to require – major changes in policies, services, program standards, staff training, business processes, and data systems. To this end, the Administration for Children’s Services, private service providers, researchers, and families must come together to co-create processes that allow for productive adaptations of evidence-based services to ensure sustainability and impact.

(Source: Metz and Bartley, 2017)

There were four key challenges to improving mutual consultation between some of the key stakeholders, specifically service providers, researchers, and policy makers:

  • Time and space to interact
  • Proactively addressing adaptive issues, rather than simply troubleshooting crises or emerging challenges
  • Ensuring everyone had a say and no person or group dominated
  • Effectively supporting the use of research evidence.

These challenges were addressed, respectively, by:

  • Increasing meeting frequency from monthly (or in some cases only as needed) to bi-weekly
  • Developing standard meeting agendas
  • Using structured facilitation techniques such as nominal group process
  • Co-developing products and processes, including desk guides, logic models and conceptual models.

A research study to assess the effectiveness of these processes found that levels of mutual consultation increased for all interactions. Specifically the study found increases in:

  • the intensity of interactions
  • formalized structures to support stakeholder communication
  • co-development of products or processes to translate research evidence.

These findings align with systematic reviews of evidence on the factors that support effective co-creation (Voorberg, Bekkers and Tummers, 2015), including a formal infrastructure for communication and the willingness of stakeholders to actively participate in communication. Feedback loops also promote iterative and cyclical improvements and modifications to evidence use, a hallmark of co-creation and co-design models.

What processes have you found to be useful?

Reference:
Voorberg, W. H., Bekkers, V. J. J. M. and Tummers, L. G. (2015). A systematic review of co-creation and co-production: Embarking on the social innovation journey. Public Management Review, 17, 9: 1333-1357.

For more information, see:
Metz, A. and Bartley, L. (2017). Co-creating the conditions to sustain the use of research evidence in public child welfare. Child Welfare, 94, 2: 115-139.

Biography: Allison Metz, Ph.D., is a developmental psychologist, Director of the National Implementation Research Network (NIRN), and Senior Scientist at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Allison specializes in the implementation, mainstreaming, and scaling of evidence to achieve social impact for children and families in a range of human service and education areas, with an emphasis on child welfare and early childhood service contexts. Among many projects, Allison is studying how to effectively co-create the conditions to sustain the use of research evidence in public child welfare through a project funded by the William T. Grant Foundation. Allison serves on the Board of Directors for the Global Implementation Initiative. She is a principal investigator of the Co-Creative Capacity pursuit funded by the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC).

This blog post is one of a series developed in preparation for the second meeting in January 2017 of the Co-Creative Capacity Pursuit. This pursuit is part of the theme Building Resources for Complex, Action-Oriented Team Science funded by the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC).

What’s in a name? The role of storytelling in participatory modeling

Community member post by Alison Singer

singer
Alison Singer (biography)

That which we call a rose,
by any other name would smell as sweet.

That Shakespeare guy really knew what he was talking about. A rose is what it is, no matter what we call it. A word is simply a cultural agreement about what we call something. And because language is a common thread that binds cultures together, participatory modeling – as a pursuit that strives to incorporate knowledge and perspectives from diverse stakeholders – is prime for integrating stories into its practice.

To an extent, that’s what every modeling activity does, whether it’s through translating an individual’s story into a fuzzy cognitive map, or into an agent-based model. But I would argue that the drive to quantify everything can sometimes make us lose the richness that a story can provide. Continue reading

Overturning the design of outcome measures

Community member post by Diana Rose

rose
Diana Rose (biography)

Outcome measures in research about treatment and service provision may not seem a particularly controversial or even exciting domain for citizen involvement. Although the research landscape is changing – partly as a result of engaging stakeholders in knowledge production and its effects – the design of outcome measures has been largely immune to these developments.

The standard way of constructing such measures – for evaluating treatment outcomes and services – has serious flaws and requires an alternative that grounds them firmly in the experiences and situations of the people whose views are being solicited. Continue reading

Citizen science and participatory modeling

Community member post by Rebecca Jordan and Steven Gray

Rebecca Jordan (biography)

As investigators who engage the public in both modeling and research endeavors we address two major questions: Does citizen science have a place within the participatory modeling research community? And does participatory modeling have a place in the citizen science research community?

Let us start with definitions. Citizen science has been defined in many ways, but we will keep the definition simple. Citizen science refers to endeavors where persons who do not consider themselves scientific experts work with those who do consider themselves experts (around a specific issue) to address an authentic research question. Continue reading

Unintended consequences of honouring what communities value and aspire to

Community member post by Melissa Robson

melissa-robson
Melissa Robson (biography)

It seems simple enough to say that community values and aspirations should be central to informing government decisions that affect them. But simple things can turn out to be complex.

In particular, when research to inform land and water policy was guided by what the community valued and aspired to rather than solely technical considerations, a much broader array of desirable outcomes was considered and the limitations of what science can measure and predict were usefully exposed. Continue reading

Getting to a shared definition of a “good” solution in collaborative problem-solving

Community member post by Doug Easterling

doug-easterling
Doug Easterling (biography)

How can collaborative groups move past their divisions and find solutions that advance their shared notions of what would be good for the community?

Complex problems – such as how to expand access to high-quality health care, how to reduce poverty, how to remedy racial disparities in educational attainment and economic opportunity, and how to promote economic development while at the same time protecting natural resources – can’t be solved with technical remedies or within a narrow mindset. They require the sort of multi-disciplinary, nuanced analysis that can only be achieved by engaging a variety of stakeholders in a co-creative process.

Bringing together stakeholders with diverse perspectives allows for a comprehensive analysis of complex problems, but this also raises the risk of a divisive process. Continue reading