When Data Drives Decision

“Without data, you’re just another person with an opinion.”

Willam Edwards Deming

Data has never been so important to practically everyone until the Covid19 global health crisis. Everyone is checking on statistics, trends and forecasts. We Filipinos are more known to be intuitive people rather than data driven when planning about our future or even deciding which option to take when making choices. We would be quick to dismiss the “rare” Filipinos we meet who like numbers as “nerds” and conversations related to numbers to cause “nosebleeds.”

This is not case with Wayne Bacale, a child of the City of Tacloban, who served as Lead on Impact Measurement and Management for the World Economic Forum. Having a doctorate degree on Organization Development from SAIDI School (Southeast Asia Interdisciplinary Development Institute) in the Philippines allowed him to understand change management in designing and managing system changes that have been useful for him in building measurement systems.

As a fan of science based targets and evidence-based decision making myself, I connected with Wayne, my former colleague in Habitat for Humanity International, to get his insights on how he can help us see data in a different light. Here are his own words, point by point, on key issues that matter to us today and how data plays a key role.

IN HIS OWN WORDS ON HOW WE CAN THRIVE ABOVE COVID19 TOWARDS THE NEW NORMAL

The current pandemic has been affecting everybody. All nations are striving. Despite this, we  need to be  proactive in thinking of innovative ways of how to prepare for the ‘new normal’ despite its uncertainties. In the short term, improving our surveillance and reporting systems will ensure that we get accurate and reliable data for well-informed decision and policy making, both in response to the crisis and in transition to the recovery phase. At the same time, we need to acknowledge the important role of the private sector.

“Time will tell what the  new normal will look  like. The private sector plays an important role during the crisis and in transtion to the new normal.”

Wayne Bacale, on his Outlook on the “New Normal”

HIS THOUGHTS ON THE VALUE OF MEASURING THE IMPACT OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMS AND PROJECTS

Measuring and managing the impact of sustainable development is instrumental for evidence based policy and decision making. Through impact measurement, we are able to define, describe and celebrate successess while learn from challenges and failure using data, facts and evidence. In addition, managing impact is about translating an impact data into useful information for timely steering, decision making, improvement and learning.

HIS APPROACH ON BALANCING GOOD INTENT AND DATA

I personally believe that a multi-stakeholder approach to combating poverty ensures that the issue is solved in a systems perspectives. All stakeholders, particularly the government, the private sector, civil society and the population, all have important roles to play. More specifically, I see impact measurement and management as an integral part of this systems initiatives. It should be seen as a built-in function of descirbing what and why a development issue needs to be addressed, what changes we hope to see and how the initiatives can contribute to the changes by using facts, data and evidences.

HIS ADVICE TO EMERGING SUSTAINABILITY LEADERS

For emerging sustainability leaders, I would encourage you to be aspirational, be innovative and don’t be afraid to push yourself beyond your comfort zones. I pushed my boundaries when I first worked overseas as a professional volunteer with Volunteer Services Organization (VSO) in Mombasa, Kenya. That experience broadened my perspective about sustainable development, particularly the similarities of development issues we face despite the differences in culture, tradition, race and location, as well as taking into account the context in resolving those issues.

HIS ATTITUDE IN NAVIGATING LIFE’S PATH

In every decision I make in my career, it is like hiking on a mountain. In every hiking trail I opted, it leads me to a different path. The most important thing in my choices is that I am clear with my goal, my decision, the risks I take and what I learn along the way. And it is fine to make mistakes, the important thing is that I learn for it.

“You need to do things one step at a time, enjoy life  and celebrate every step of the way. I personally do this by experiencing one adventure per year, from sky diving to a 10 day-silent retreat, to paragliding, among others.”

Wayne, on his outlook on life

With his adventurous spirit, Wayne is currently on his way to his new adventure as Chief of Management for Results, Planning, Monitoring and Reporting of UNICEF India. He will be moving out of Geneva once travel restrictions are lifted due to the Covid19 pandemic.

#sustainableph #sustainabilitychampions #datamatters #sciencebasedtargets #evidencebaseddecisions #sustainabledevelopment #impactassessment

Photo credits: Wayne Bacale | Sustainableph 2020

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