To Be Decided #3

post by Ian David Moss · 2019-12-05T19:06:18.198Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · LW · GW · 3 comments

Contents

  What I've Been Reading
    Getting Smarter About Learning from Other People's Research
  Decision-Making for Impact: A Guide
  Stuff You Should Know About
  That's all for now!
None
3 comments

TBD is a quarterly-ish newsletter about deploying knowledge for impact, learning at scale, and making more thoughtful choices for ourselves and our organizations. This is the third issue, which was originally published in September 2019. Enjoy!  --Ian

What I've Been Reading

The Crisis of Evidence Use
In the last issue [LW · GW] of To Be Decided, I highlighted a study that shows most foundations have trouble commissioning evaluations that yield meaningful insights for the field, grantees, or even their own colleagues. A remarkable finding, but you could be forgiven for wondering how much we can conclude from just one study. Sadly (and ironically) there is plenty of evidence to reinforce the point that people with influence over social policy simply don't read or use the vast majority of the knowledge we produce, no matter how relevant it is. What's really astounding about this is how much time, money, attention we spend on evidence-building activities for apparently so little concrete gain. We are either vastly overvaluing or vastly undervaluing evidence. We need to get it right, because those are real resources that could be spent elsewhere, and the world is falling apart around us while we get lost in our spreadsheets and community engagement methodologies.
(Twitter thread | Blog post)

Getting Smarter About Learning from Other People's Research

While there's no one silver bullet for improving evidence use, one thing we can do is get smarter about the ways we construct knowledge from other people's research. Research synthesis is a relatively new and fast-growing scientific methodology. Unlike traditional literature review, research synthesis is hypothesis-driven and treats a body of evidence as a data set, while still leaving room for methodological diversity and qualitative approaches. My understanding of research synthesis is informed by my time working with Harris Cooper, who served on the advisory board for my former think tank Createquity. Dr. Cooper's handbook on research synthesis is an excellent place to start if you want to understand its key principles and learn how to do one yourself.

(Twitter thread)

Decision-Making for Impact: A Guide

How has your life been shaped by the decisions of government officials, donors, and nonprofit executives? If you're anything like me, probably in too many ways to count. I think that’s why we all got into this work in the first place: to make a difference in people’s lives. But it took me a while to realize that the difference we make and the decisions we make are one and the same. Better decisions foster a legacy we can be proud of.

So how can we get better? Lots of ways! Decision-making is an exciting frontier in social impact precisely because there is so much untapped potential to improve how we do things. For decades now, scholars and practitioners have been pioneering methodologies for analyzing and making decisions that have seen barely any adoption in philanthropy, government, or impact investing. Drawing from that body of work, I’ve developed my own process to help myself and my collaborators make critical decisions with intention and focus. Here, I’m sharing the key elements of that process so that you can benefit from them in your own practice.

(Keep reading)

Stuff You Should Know About

That's all for now!

If you enjoyed this edition of TBD, please consider forwarding it to a friend. It's easy to sign up here. See you next time!

3 comments

Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by mr-hire · 2019-12-05T21:58:18.372Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Thanks for writing these! Perhaps you could make a sequence here on LW so it's easy to navigate to previous and future newsletters.

comment by Ian David Moss · 2019-12-16T20:20:01.226Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

FYI, this is now set up: https://www.lesswrong.com/s/tXiWcokm9tpy8uApN [? · GW]

comment by Ian David Moss · 2019-12-05T23:01:46.797Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

That's a good idea, I'll have to figure out how to do that! :)