This is an Eval Central archive copy, find the original at freshspectrum.com.
In today’s post I want to address one those elephants in the room. It’s about the biggest reason why data people have trouble producing creative work.
We are all creative, but some of us have way more practice.
You want to know what I’ve learned in my decade long transition from data analyst to information designer?
We all have the capacity to improve our creative work. It requires a bit of training, regular practice, inspiration, and support. Just like everything else you want to learn.
And if you are like most of the people who follow this blog. People who come out of institutions of higher education with graduate degrees in social sciences. You almost certainly have not had the creative training or years of practice necessary to expect professional results.
Increasing Creative Expectations
In the days before the internet you could write longer reports. You could deliver somewhat dull presentations. You could share executive summaries in black and white that didn’t include any pictures.
And nobody would complain. And it wouldn’t feel like the wrong thing to do.
Now don’t get me wrong, like now it wasn’t the best way to share your findings. But nobody expected you to do anything different. You could have quite a successful career just doing your data work and leaving the creative stuff to other people.
Times have changed.
Increasingly researchers and evaluators of all ages are being asked to produce professional quality creative work. This includes well-designed visual reports, infographics, visual presentations, and sometimes even things like video and web design.
And while I think this is ultimately a good thing, there is one big problem.
Our Fields Offer Next to Zero Creative Training
When you were in college or grad school, did you take any design courses?
- Did you take a course in user experience design, human centered design, or the principles of graphic design?
- How about any courses on digital communications or content strategy?
- Did you learn how to report like a journalist or how to effectively share your work through email and social media?
For most of us in the research and evaluation world, the answer to all those questions is “no.”
To all the managers out there in the world, no more excuses.
If you want your research and evaluation employees to produce professional quality creative work you need to give them the proper creative training and support.
Our education systems and academic programs will take a lot longer to change and adapt. And even when they do, it will be years and years before you see the change reflected in your talent.
And if you want somewhere to send them to get that support and training, that’s why I do what I do.