Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Understanding The Data

Today I would like to introduce Rebecca Novinger, who has been hired as Imagine!’s Director of Client Relations. Rebecca’s former job was Special Programs Coordinator at the Marion Downs Hearing Center.

Rebecca has a B.A. in Psychology from Pennsylvania State University, and an M.S. in Health Systems Management from George Mason University.

Rebecca will be responsible for the overall direction, support, and financial operation of Client Relations, Family Services, and Care Coordination at Imagine!. In her role, she will manage client relations, experiences, and data resources to ensure efficiency, manage costs, support decisions, maintain corporate agility, and ensure quality of care coordination, regulatory compliance, and operational efficiency.

But what does that really mean, and why is it so important for Imagine!? In the past, I’m afraid I haven’t always been successful in explaining to our staff members and other stakeholders about this position and why it is vital to our long-term success.

That is why I was so pleased to recently come across an article in the Harvard Business Review entitled “Good Data Won't Guarantee Good Decisions.” This article explains far better than I have been able to what we are hoping to achieve through the creation of this new position at Imagine!.

As the article points out, “The ability to gather, store, access, and analyze data has grown exponentially over the past decade, and companies now spend tens of millions of dollars to manage the information streaming in from suppliers and customers.” This holds true for organizations in the not-for-profit and human services worlds.

Unfortunately, the new challenge is how to incorporate this data into complex decision making. The article also makes the point that too many organizations expend considerable resources on collecting data, but very few resources are invested in understanding the data. This also holds true for organizations in the not-for-profit and human services worlds.

So that will be a big part of Rebecca’s job moving forward – understanding the huge amount of data we have at Imagine! in order to help direct our decision making moving forward. Anyone looking down the road a bit can see why this will be so important. The current system of funding services in our state, and indeed most of the nation, is unsustainable. Compounding that problem, the “silver tsunami” of aging baby boomers will mean that the demand for the services we provide will be higher than ever, and the number of people available to meet that demand will be extremely limited.

Therefore, the time to start preparing is now. But we shouldn’t just try and guess what we should do – and we don’t have to. The data we already have provides an opportunity to create a roadmap for the future, if we can understand the data and use it to our benefit.

I am so excited to have Rebecca as the person to help create that roadmap for Imagine!. I think her efforts will put us in the position to create a sustainable organization that will continue to provide superior services to some of our most vulnerable citizens for years to come.

Then again, what do I know?

Interested in learning more? You can contact Rebecca at

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