IC Week: Gail Barrington on Small is Beautiful–but Our Knowledge Transfer (KT) Opportunities Are Huge!

I’m Gail Barrington, an independent consultant with more than 25 years of experience in program evaluation and applied research, and a published author. I’m a senior evaluation adviser to a number of organizations, I teach on-line, present workshops and webinars, and write as much as I can. Our clients hire us for our expertise and specialized skills but they keep us for the relationships we build and the knowledge we acquire about their organizations. This provides a golden opportunity to think more deeply about translating evaluation findings into action. Don’t submit your report and walk away. Our impact begins when we plan for KT. My freely re-interpreted version of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research’s definition of KT is the exchange, synthesis and application of research findings by evaluators and their clients to accelerate the effectiveness of evaluated services, products and systems.

Lessons Learned:

  • Plan for KT activities at the beginning of your project and make them a line item in your budget.
  • Report early findings and planned KT processes in your interim reports and obtain stakeholder feedback.
  • Reflect on your final report with your client and other stakeholders and determine what information should be disseminated, what audiences reached, and what strategies and mechanisms used.
  • Once the KT phase is complete, evaluate its effectiveness too.

Rad Resources:

  • Dr. Melanie Barwick, a presenter AEA 2011, developed a Knowledge Translation Research Plan Template and a Training Manual to help you plan for potential KT strategies when writing your proposal or evaluation plan.
  • Barwick also reviewed KT practices in an extensive number of medical research articles and drew some interesting conclusions. While we tend to favor conference presentations and papers, Barwick found their effect to be mixed at best. The most effective KT interventions include:
    • Interactive small group learning
    • Educational outreach
    • Electronic and poster reminders
    • Computer prompting systems and decision support
    • Multi-professional collaboration and teamwork.

With this kind of information, we can strategize with our clients about effective next steps. Because we work closely with them and because they trust us, we can encourage them to develop KT plans and strategies. Working together we can grow the impact of our evaluation results exponentially.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating the Independent Consulting TIG (IC) Week. The contributions all week come from IC members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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