Hello Internet! (Or more likely, my dad and a friend or two),
This is my first blog post, and a challenge to myself to start taking stock of what I’m learning from my short experience as Ali Holstein LLC. Just like any good diet, I figured making this learning public would help hold me accountable for continuous learning and reflection. As I resolve to start sharing lessons and resources, I’m also looking back on what I’ve learned in 2018 - a year in which I made a major pivot from working for large organizations to becoming a team of 1. So here are some things I’ve been thinking about that will hopefully be valuable to someone else out there working with schools and non-profits:
Data is not a bucket. Data is a mindset and a culture. A data-driven organization does not hire a “data person” to “do the data.” A data-driven organization has leaders and staff who know they need information and evidence to make decisions, and they have a clear idea of what they are trying to achieve. They are able to look at data not just for what they want to share with funders or governing bodies, but for the growth areas (or holes) that must be addressed in order to reach their goals. They know they will never figure it out, but rather, will always be working to make things better.
Consulting is more than patching a hole in the ceiling. It’s figuring out what caused the hole, making a plan to prevent future holes, and making sure your client is more prepared, confident, and motivated to NOT hire expensive consultants to fix holes. Not sure how to do all this yet. Stay tuned.
Giving myself a “title” in an emerging role was a struggle. My working title is “Youth Program Consultant and Data Translator” to be a little specific about which organizations I work with. “Data Translator” is a term I made up (that already existed) to highlight a problem I’ve found in the field - a deep commitment to collect and report data (to funders) but a need for good structures for learning and growing from the data.
Relationships. All work with young people revolves around relationships. I kinda knew this already, but I’m seeing it more in the data (higher attendance when students feel they belong). Glad we’re starting to measure the right things.
Excited for the journey ahead. Please leave a comment, Dad!
Happy New Year!