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Service to solutions: Root cause analysis


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Food banks? D.A.R.E.? Habitat for Humanity? With many organizations and strategies trying to address complex social problems, how do we determine which ones actually make an impact? Through interactive activities, we will explore how to measure and determine the effectiveness of an organization or strategy.

Published in: Leadership & Management
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Service to solutions: Root cause analysis

  1. 1. Service to Solutions: Root Cause Analysis Modeled from Solutions U Bonner Congress 2018 Stetson University Facilitated by: Liz Brandt, Community Engagement Director, Bonner Foundation Alexander Nichols, Bonner Congress Representative, Davidson College
  3. 3. SERVICE TO SOLUTIONS In order to prevent youth from getting involved in crime, one program takes them to prisons, and attempts to scare them. Prisoners offer testimonies about how terrible their lives are behind bars. They tell frightening stories and offer a grim picture of what happens to people who commit crimes and are caught. The theory of change is that young people will be “scared straight.” This program was so compelling that there was an Academy-Award winning documentary about its effectiveness.
  4. 4. SERVICE TO SOLUTIONS Project DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) is intended to show young people the dangers of drugs. Police officers teach young people in high schools about how drugs can destroy their lives. The program is taught throughout America’s 50 states and territories, as well as 50+ other countries, reaching more than 1.5 million students annually.
  5. 5. SERVICE TO SOLUTIONS A social entrepreneur created PlayPumps International to address the lack of access to clean drinking water in developing nations. PlayPumps are merry-go-rounds that children play on, and as they turn, pump water from the ground. PlayPumps started to receive international attention after it won the World Bank Development Marketplace Award in 2000. It was one of those rare programs that earned bipartisan support.
  6. 6. ‣ Addressing lack of access to safe, clean drinking water ‣ Merry-go-rounds that children play on, and as they turn, pump water from the ground ‣ Won World Bank Development Marketplace Award in 2000 ‣ Intended to show young people the dangers of drugs ‣ Taught throughout America’s 50 states and territories, 50+ countries, reaching more than 1.5 million students annually ‣ Theory of change is that young people will be “scared straight.” ‣ Prisoners offer testimonies ‣ Academy-Award winning documentary about its effectiveness
  9. 9. MAKING A DIFFERENCE - MEASURING IMPACT WAYS OF MEASURING IMPACT ‣ Randomized, double-blind studies with experimental and control groups - This is the gold- standard. It is how drug manufacturers test whether cancer treatments and other potentially life-saving remedies actually work better than placebos. These randomized, controlled trials (RCT) are used increasingly in international development. They are difficult to do in many circumstances. ‣ Testimonials - While endorsements and support can appear impressive, it is important to remember, such as in the PlayPump example, that having endorsements from the Clinton and Bush families did not show that the program actually worked. ‣ Anecdotes and case studies - These can be useful to highlight inspirational stories; however, this doesn’t necessarily mean that such story is representative of the entire population they serve. ‣ Self-reports - The data could be attained through a survey, for example. The data can be effective, but again, are subject to biases (i.e. discrepancy between what people report and what they actually do).
  11. 11. DOWNSTREAM SOLUTIONS Once upon a time, there was a small village on the edge of a river. Life in the village was busy. There were people growing food and people teaching the children to make blankets and people making meals. One day a villager took a break from harvesting food and noticed a baby floating down the river toward the village. She couldn't believe her eyes! She heard crying in the distance and looked downstream to see that two babies had already floated by the village. She looked around at the other villagers working nearby. "Does anyone else see that baby?" she asked. One villager heard the woman, but continued working. "Yes!" yelled a man who had been making soup. "Oh, this is terrible!" A woman who had been building a campfire shouted, "Look, there are even more upstream!" Indeed, there were three more babies coming around the bend. "How long have these babies been floating by?" asked another villager. No one knew for sure, but some people thought they might have seen something in the river earlier. They were busy at the time and did not have time to investigate. They quickly organized themselves to rescue the babies. Watchtowers were built on both sides of the shore and swimmers were coordinated to maintain shifts of rescue teams that maintained 24-hour surveillance of the river. Ziplines with baskets attached were stretched across the river to get even more babies to safety quickly. The number of babies floating down the river only seemed to increase. The villagers built orphanages and they taught even more children to make blankets and they increased the amount of food they grew to keep the babies housed, warm and fed. Life in the village carried on. Then one day at a meeting of the Village Council, a villager asked, "But where are all these babies coming from?” "No one knows," said another villager. "But I say we organize a team to go upstream and find how who's throwing these babies in the river.” Not everyone was in agreement. "But we need people to help us pull the babies out of the river," said one villager. "That's right!" said another villager. "And who will be here to cook for them and look after them if a bunch of people go upstream?” The Council chose to let the village decide. If you were a villager, what would your vote be? Do you send a team upstream?
  12. 12. Leading cause of death for men and women in the U.S.
  13. 13. WHY? WHY? WHY? WHY? WHY?
  14. 14. PERSONAL V. STRUCTURAL CAUSES PERSONAL ▸Biology/genes ▸ Individual choices ▸ Family obligations ▸ Religious/personal beliefs ▸ Life changes or events ▸Mental & physical capabilities ▸ STRUCURAL Laws & policies Social and/or cultural norms Hiring and promotion practices Resource allocation Historical precedent