State of the art resource: Keystone’s technical note

Newsflash! A great new resource has just been published on how to get – and use – powerful feedback from the people NGOs work with.

It’s Keystone’s first Technical Note on Constituent Voice methodology: required reading for anyone interested in feedback systems in NGOs.

The note summarises years of hard won experience in designing and running feedback systems. For instance:

Our overriding lesson from the past few years is that collecting [data] – listening – alone is not enough. It is necessary to land what you hear in transparent performance metrics. In order to understand the stories behind the measures, it is necessary to undertake sense-making activities with your constituents. Then you must act on the resulting insights. Finally, ongoing Constituent Voice feedback will let you know if corrective actions are having their desired effects.”

It is packed with practical guidance on how to do all these things, illustrated with case studies. And it comes from a management perspective throughout – discussing how feedback systems can be integrated into practical performance management systems.

Keystone Hirschman CycleFor instance, the note sets out a five stage cycle (right) for running feedback systems.

It identifies four sets of questions that it is most useful to get feedback on:

  1. How important the organisation’s services are to respondents.
  2. The quality of services.
  3. Respondents’ views on how the organisation interacts with them.
  4. Progress towards outcomes.

This is a real step towards framing the agenda for the field as a whole. The note goes on to provide concrete examples of questions to ask in each area.

It discusses major practical issues faced in running feedback systems, such as: the pros and cons of anonymous v non-anonymous responses; different approaches to data collection; analysing data and creating performance metrics.

Quantification of qualitative feedback data enables us to create performance benchmarks – not on the basis of technical ‘ratings’ by external inspectors, but on feedback from those in the best position to speak of their experience of an organization or service.”

As it says in the title, the note focuses on ‘methods’ – on how to get and use feedback.

That still leaves the question of why NGOs should invest in feedback systems. At the moment, the hard incentives that drive NGOs’ growth and goals seldom create this pressure – or a culture for continual improvement. But perhaps that’s a subject for another note!

For now, all of us working in this field owe a debt of gratitude to Keystone for developing this field of work and being so open in sharing their experience. Thank you, David and the team!

One Response

  1. “It is necessary to land what you hear in transparent performance metrics. In order to understand the stories behind the measures, it is necessary to undertake sense-making activities with your constituents.”
    hmmmm.

    OK – I have not read this document – but the jargon and mangled (and thus far from transparent) terminology “land what you here ” “understand sense making activities ” really does not encourage the reader to look further into these techniques. Perhaps a need to encourage improved factualisation of linguistic uptake ???

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