Step 5: Synthesize Implementation Data

Measuring your results starts with synthesizing your data. During implementation you documented the experiences and feedback of both knowledge seekers and providers. This information, along with your own reflections, describes what the exchange was achieving.

When you begin your synthesis, this information may look like a bunch of random notes, flip charts, journal entries, videos, or photos. However, as you review and translate these records into something more useful, you will be able to see how change is progressing. Look for the direct results that arose from the knowledge exchange as well as what the exchange has influenced.

In many cases you will have to supplement the data you collected during an exchange with additional information to tell the full story.

Here are steps to help you synthesize your data:

  1. Write down the intermediate outcomes and associated indicators that you decided on in
    Step 2.
  2. Collect and review any notes captured during implementation.
  3. Look for patterns or connections within the data and synthesize these. For example, similar reactions from participants to a particular activity or relating to a common idea could be synthesized by a word, phrase, or participant quote.
  4. Group data as contributions to intermediate outcomes. Refer to the indicators as evidence
    that intermediate outcomes were achieved.
  5. Single out any indicators that provide a strong potential for, or evidence of, a broader effect on a change objective/institutional challenge (for example, a participant who said she would draft a new law to improve early childhood education).
  6. As you synthesize and group, look for gaps in results data. For example, perhaps you don’t know what participants plan to do differently after the exchange.
  7. Consider ways to fill information gaps. You may, for instance, interview the participants or ask them to share with you their post-event reports, key takeaways, or action plans.

Here is a great way to organize your results and identify unexpected outcomes.

Write each intermediate outcome and associated indicator/s on a sticky note and place these on a wall in a horizontal line like headers in a table. Then transfer your data points to sticky notes of a different color (synthesize similar ideas into one note) and place them where you think they best fit. Stand back and observe. Try different configurations. You’ll most likely see some data points don’t fit your expected outcomes. Separate these from the rest and see if you can come up with an appropriate heading.