The Rucks Group 2022 Winter Newsletter

The Rucks Group Appreciates You!

While a day never goes by without us appreciating the valuable support that our clients and partners bring to our work, the holiday season offers a special time to reflect upon the impact you have made on all of us at The Rucks Group. As we look back on the past year, our thoughts turn gratefully to you for allowing us to be a part of your successes. Thank you so much for your unwavering support.

Happy holidays now, and best wishes as you embark on the New Year ahead!

Bring in The New Year by Joining Our Next Coffee Break Webinar

Wednesday, January 26, 2022, 2:00p-2:30pET

Surveys play a critical role in capturing patterns to facilitate innovation. This function is understood simply by the large number of organizations and entities that distribute surveys. While disseminating a survey is relatively easy because of the availability of various tools, disseminating a “savvy” survey that provides insights for continuous improvement that can also provide evidence of impact is much more challenging. To increase the likelihood of obtaining meaningful and actionable data, surveys should address articulated questions, reach the right individuals, and be easy for respondents to complete.

For more information about this webinar, click the “Learn More” button to the right.

Check Out Our Newest Blog on Building “Change-Quake-Proof” Projects

In our October Coffee Break Webinar, Making Your Project “Change-Quake-Proof”: Strategies for Implementing Change Management, we featured Elizabeth McIntyre, Tristate Energy and Advanced Manufacturing (TEAM) Consortium Director. During the 30-minute webinar, she shared her extensive experience implementing initiatives that are responsive and resilient to unanticipated changes. This blog highlights some of the key considerations that facilitate a “Change-Quake-Proof” Project. To learn more, please click the “View Blog” button below.

Share These Experiential Learning Opportunities with Your Undergraduate and Graduate Students

We are currently accepting applications for Summer Research Assistant Interns and Summer Research Associate Fellows. In these roles, students will support the design, execution, analysis, and evaluation of The Rucks Group projects. This immersive 10 week-learning experience will complement what students are learning in their degree programs as well as provide informal learning experiences through mentorship. For more information about these opportunities, click the “Learn More” button below.

Students seeking additional resources about careers in data analysis, applied research, and evaluation are encouraged to view our November Lunch Break Webinar, So, What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up? A Look Into a Unique, Meaningful Career for Curious Minds.

Highlighted Resources

Resource: NSF S-STEM Solicitation
(Note: Proposals are due February 22, 2022)
WebinarDemystifying Evaluation Planning for Grant Proposals
Webinar:  5 Best Practices for Hiring the Right Evaluation Partner

3 Insights for Establishing “Change-Quake-Proof” Initiatives

We recently shared insights about implementing initiatives that are resilient to unanticipated changes in our Coffee Break Webinar entitled Making Your Project “Change-Quake-Proof”.  The title is a play on the concept of an “earthquake-proof” building which is built with the intention of reducing damage during earthquakes. Similarly, “change-quake-proof” initiatives are designed to withstand changes that will likely occur when implementing an initiative, particularly a large, system-wide initiative.

Our guest speaker for this Coffee Break Webinar was Elizabeth “Betsy” McIntyre; she is the Director of the Tristate Energy and Advanced Manufacturing (TEAM) Consortium. I got to know Betsy and her team while I served as an external evaluator on an ARC grant that had been awarded to the TEAM Consortium. Over the two years of working on the grant, I was impressed with her leadership style and ability to lead a large-scale initiative effectively. This was quite remarkable because the project involved so many stakeholders from government, industry, and higher education across three states (Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia).

In this 30-minute webinar, Betsy shared how she builds team resiliency, engages with partners, and manages disruption. Here are three themes that emerged through the conversation:

  • Focus on Assets: We all have a tendency to identify deficits and then use those deficits as a way to drive change. Indeed, many project proposal solicitations require that some sort of need statement or gap analysis be included. The very nature of this process directs a project team to look at what is missing. While that may be required during the proposal phase, as the team moves into implementation there should be a greater focus placed on assets because assets create more energy than deficits. With that said, the project team does not need to be Pollyannaish or overly optimistic to the point of ignoring problems. Instead the team’s attention should be on assets and on determining what positive attributes currently exist, and how they can be built upon to address gaps.  

  • Surround Yourself with Quality People: It’s critical to surround yourself with experts that you trust and who will provide real-time insights and input. The conditions around implementation are constantly changing and it is important that the individuals that you consult with can provide the information needed to drive data-informed decisions. These individuals should have the capability to provide you with good quality data in a timely fashion. With solid, up-to-date information you will be able to determine if you need to stay the course or if you need to pivot.  

  • Involve all Stakeholders: The leader must work to cultivate a culture of consensus. This is particularly important so that the weight of the initiative is not entirely on the shoulders of the leader. If the initiative relies on the energy and passions of the leader alone, that can be problematic if other pressing business matters arise, health issues occur, or the leader’s stamina fades. To create a culture of consensus the project team must have a shared common understanding of the purpose of the initiative. A shared common understanding should be established very early within the life of the initiative. Once that’s set, then the team should invite people who have a stake in the outcome whether or not they are likely to participate. As the initiative moves forward, the team should be sure to keep the stakeholders’ end user in mind as services, tools, and resources are developed.

These are just some highlights from the webinar. For more in-depth information on each of these topics, I invite you to review the recording of the webinar.