Asking and Answering Questions

How do you know what you need to paint a clear and compelling picture? There is a great deal of existing data out there, and much of this information can be collected so the first step is to focus on the purpose of using data by asking questions such as:

  • What upcoming decisions would be more strategic if you had data to inform them?
  • What questions are being asked that relate to that decision?
  • What types of data would help answer the questions?

Answering these questions can help in selecting actionable data to support making decisions that can lead to better outcomes and a greater change in the world as a result of your work. Determining your focus can help you strategically gather data to meet your needs. There are many different types/sources of data, including but not limited to:

  • Evaluation – What are the cause and effect relationships between strategy and outcome?
  • Assessment – What is the current state?
  • Forecasting – What is possible in the future?
  • Retrospective – What are the range of options that have been tried in similar settings or in the past in this setting?
  • Perspectives – How is the problem/solution viewed differently by different actors?
  • Drivers – What is causing the problem?
  • Context – What else is influencing the problem?