Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Between the Dashboard and the Chair: The Human Side of Data for Good (Beth Kanter blog)

I came across this blog today via Alex Swallow and was fascinated to read about Beth's yin yang approach to the world of Third Sector data:

I was particularly struck by the yin and yang diagram above and noticed how much this reflected Operational Research (O.R.) which is the discipline of applying appropriate analytical methods to help those who run organisations make better decisions.

The Yin (Technical) is like ‘Hard’ O.R. where the problem is analytically studied using experimental data, measurement, quantification and mathematical modelling.
The Yang (Human) is like ‘Soft’ O.R. which employs predominantly qualitative, rational, interpretative and structured techniques to interpret, define, and explore various perspectives of the problem.

Beth says 'Effective non-profit measurement and data practice requires a balance of both the human side and the technical.   It is like yin and yang, because these seeming contrary ideas and skills sets are actually complementary, interconnected and interdependent.'  Similarly in O.R., by using techniques such as problem structuring methods and mathematical modelling to analyse complex situations, O.R. gives executives the power to make more effective decisions based on more complete information.

The OR Society set up the Pro Bono O.R. initiative in September 2013 after recognising that many Third sector organisations needed help in this area.

If you know of a Third sector (UK based) organisation that would benefit from Pro Bono O.R. help please do get in touch.  Similarly if you would like to become a volunteer analyst please drop me an email or visit: Pro Bono O.R. webpage