My favourite kind of meeting is an ‘after action review’. It’s that meeting when you get the team back together again, once the dust has settled, and you talk about what happened, why it happened, and how it could have gone better.
We often get asked by organizations if we will write them a communications strategy. We could, but we won’t. Because we believe that strategy is a process not a document.
On a recent trip to New York, I was intrigued to find that notoriously rude New Yorkers are a lot more polite than their reputation suggests.
If you’d have told me a few years ago that the future of social media was text-heavy 90 second videos, I’d have laughed you out of the room. But ‘auto-play’ video on Facebook and Twitter is changing the game, when it comes to digital content creation.
Let’s face it, a lot of research just gathers dust on a shelf. An analysis of World Bank publications once showed that a third had never been downloaded, by anyone – ever! Most researchers I meet want to change the world, it’s just that very few of them know how. They sweat blood doing the heavy lifting of analysing massive datasets and wait for what feels like forever for the results of longitudinal panel surveys. The last thing they want is for their research to go unnoticed.
So here are 10 top tips for researchers who want to change the world:
Everybody’s talking about ‘the little big thing’. We’re all working on big things: ending poverty, reducing maternal mortality, gender equality, financial inclusion, universal education, action on climate change… But sometimes we forget about the little thing, that makes the big thing happen.
There’s a time and a place for everything. But the best time for policy briefs is not six o’clock in the evening at the end of an all day conference. And the best place for policy briefs is not at a cocktail party, and certainly not floating on the surface of a hotel swimming pool.
I’ve just been at a conference attended by 450 people from all across the world. In the opening session, the facilitator asked for a ‘show of hands’: “Hands up: who has come from another country in Africa?” “Hands up: who has never been to this country before?” “Hands up: who is sitting next to someone they’ve never met before?”
How your heart sinks when a presenter clicks to their next slide, only to reveal a wall of text, which they then proceed to read out: word, for word. We call it ‘PowerPoint karaoke’ and it grinds your audience down. It also provokes either complete disengagement or a stream of hostile attacks in your Q&A.
Uwezo’s annual learning assessments have in only five years become the gold standard for finding out whether our children are learning. Each year they assess children in their homes and put out reports detailing their findings for Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya and the region. The cyclical nature of Uwezo’s work and the fact that there have been few changes in the data over the period meant that they had to do something else if they wanted policy makers to concentrate on quality. If Uwezo was to approach its goal of increasing literacy and numeracy by ten percentage points they realised they would have to raise their voices.