William Davidson Institute:
Faculty Collaboration Recruitment
This project was taken on during my first semester in the University of Michigan School of Information’s MSI program. The course was called “Contextual Inquiry and Consulting Foundations.” The premise of the course was to pair teams of 4 students acting as consultants with an organization that had an information-related problem, and to resolve it over the course of the semester.
The William Davidson Institute is a non-profit organization focused on providing private-sector solutions in low- and middle-income countries. They focus on research, education/training, and field based collaborations in partnership with private-sector industry to improve economic, educational, and healthcare opportunities in the countries where they are involved. They have 6 initiatives internally that each project is aligned to: Education, Energy, Finance, Healthcare, Performance Measurement, and Scaling Impact.
The initiative that approached my team with a problem to resolve was the Performance Measurement Initiative (PMI). PMI works in collaboration with faculty advisors to create meaningful metrics to measure the success of a project being worked on by other initiatives. For example, the PMI team may contact a faculty member from the University of Michigan School of Public Health to assist with measuring the success and shortcomings of a project being worked on by the Healthcare Initiative.
PMI approached my team for assistance after having consistent trouble with recruiting faculty to assist on projects that needed Performance Measurement consulting. The difficulties with faculty recruitment manifested in these ways:
1. PMI events had low attendance, and those who would show up were students, not faculty, PMI’s target audience for fostering consulting relationships.
2. The William Davidson Institute as a whole did not have consistent practices in place for faculty outreach; each team maintained their own lists of contacts.
3. The above issues were thought to contribute to the main issue of having difficulties with fostering the sorts of relationships with faculty that would make them willing to assist with creating and measuring project performance.
I conducted interviews with various William Davidson Institute employees and a PMI faculty collaborator. The interviews were between 60 and 90 minutes. After each interview, my team would meet to discuss the results, and take “affinity notes”, freestanding statements, assertions, or quotes from interviews to be compiled on post-it notes, and organized together on an affinity wall.
In addition to interviewing, note-taking, and affinity wall assembly, I created the design of our final report in Adobe Illustrator.
Based upon analysis of our interviews, my group recommended implementing the following practices to address PMI's issues with faculty recruitment:
1. Closer collaboration with the Institute's Marketing Manager
The marketing manager has powerful insights and tools to connect with faculty collaborators; she was a previously untapped resource that could assist greatly with recruitment.
2. Tailor event content to faculty
Tailoring content for the audience they are hoping to attract will be essential. Previous content was too basic or general for professors who are looking for cutting-edge research and collaboration opportunities.
3. Develop a standardized process to support faculty outreach
Creating consistency in new practices requires specific guidelines, and establishing regular meeting times for recruitment planning with the Marketing Manager will be essential.
The Performance Measurement Initiative Team was impressed by the quality of our analysis and report, and have implemented our recommendations. However, as this report was submitted relatively recently (December 2017 at the time of writing), I do not yet have any responses to record at this time. When the semester ends, I will follow up with the PMI team to better understand the magnitude the success of my group's suggestions.
A first sample of the group's affinity wall.
A second sample of the group's affinity wall.
The K-Tell Consulting group assembles their affinity wall.
Final consulting report cover