How to plan and conduct an effective stakeholder consultation: 7 top tips (Part 1)

by: Anneliese Poetz, KT Manager, NeuroDevNet

I wanted to write about top tips for conducting a stakeholder consultation because it is so important to do it right in order to maximize your time and financial investment. The people in attendance are willing to give you the greatest gifts you could receive: their time and their wisdom. It is therefore your obligation to carefully construct the event. There have been other blogs written about stakeholder consultation, that you may also find useful, but I wanted to write about tips I have learned through my own experience.  With that, here are my top tips for conducting a stakeholder consultation to inform your research and KT:

start early

Start planning as early as possible

1) Start Early: You need to start planning at least 6-8 months in advance of the date you plan to hold your event. At this stage you should know: why you need to hold a stakeholder consultation including a general sketch of what you need to know from your stakeholders. Once you know this, you should also be able to roughly sketch out the categories and types of stakeholders you need to invite. Starting early is especially important if you plan to invite Chief Medical Officers of Health, as they need this much notice to be able to get it into their calendars.

2) Write a purpose statement: A purpose statement should be broad and should clearly establish the overarching goal of the meeting. Once you know (as in #1) why you need to hold a stakeholder consultation this will be relatively easy. The purpose statement quickly summarizes why you are holding the meeting, but should include information such as: i) what is the nature of the meeting (e.g. ‘…to provide a forum for information exchange and open discussion….’), ii) who will be attending the meeting (e.g. ‘…between public health practitioners and researchers…’), iii) what the outcome of the meeting is intended to be (e.g. ‘…how current knowledge on partner notification could be incorporated into practice and how knowledge gaps could be addressed’). In this way, it gives participants a quick overview of what the meeting will be about and why their input is important toward achieving the meeting’s outcome(s).

Here is an example of a purpose statement:

To provide a forum for information exchange and open discussion between public health practitioners and researchers on how current knowledge on partner notification could be incorporated into practice and how knowledge gaps could be addressed.

Clearly articulate purpose and objectives of the meeting

Clearly articulate purpose and objectives of the meeting

3) Clearly articulate the objectives of the meeting: The objectives should be clearly articulated, and should relate to but be more specific than the purpose statement. It is critical to do this, and early on in the process. The objectives represent the anchor to which the rest of the meeting will be tethered. In other words, the people you invite, the activities you do, the focus questions you ask, will all be informed by what you are trying to achieve. Sadly, I have observed all too often that this step is neglected in favour of brainstorming and deciding on activities which inevitably end up being a mish mash of disconnected “stuff” that rarely results in a useful set of outcomes.   Usually you would have at least 2-3 objectives for the meeting, but you could have up to around 6, 7 or even 8 depending on what you are trying to achieve and how long the meeting is. Here are example objectives that nest under the purpose statement example above:

  • Provide participants with an overview of [organization name/researcher or project team name(s)] partner notification project and findings to date
  • Provide participants with opportunities to exchange information and ideas on partner notification strategies that have been attempted in local public health jurisdictions
  • Identify ways to incorporate knowledge from research and local experience into policy and practice
  • Identify knowledge gaps related to partner notification and ways to address them
  • Identify a potential role and next steps for [organization/researcher or project team name(s)] to facilitate the improvement of partner notification programs in Canada

 

Linking documentation together makes your meeting stronger

Linking documentation together makes your meeting stronger

4) Link all of your documentation: all documents for the meeting including (but not limited to) the meeting agenda, invitation letters, consistent breakout group/report back forms, evaluation forms should repeat the purpose statement and objectives at the top. Before the event, it helps the meeting organizers and planners to ensure activities are aligned with the purpose and help to achieve the meeting’s objectives as these various documents are being drafted and reviewed. At the event, it shows your attendees that you respect their time by having prepared a seamless and well-organized meeting package (the final documents should also be formatted uniformly). It also helps to ground the meeting as it unfolds, and provides a visual reminder to facilitators and participants of the purpose in case the discussion(s) begin to veer off track. It is especially important to ask participants on the evaluation forms how well they believe the meeting achieved its objectives.

5) Draft an agenda before sending out invitations: your invitees will likely have to book time off work or otherwise rearrange their schedules to attend your meeting, so they need to be able to determine whether their attendance can be justified. In many cases they will need to show the agenda to their employer (which is one reason why it is important to state the purpose and objectives at the top of the agenda) in order to gain approval to take leave from the office to be able to attend.

6) Piggyback onto another event: a popular option for conducting a stakeholder consultation is to tack it onto another event such as a conference that you know there is a good chance your stakeholders will be attending. This greatly cuts down on transportation costs, because if you are paying for your participants’ travel expenses all you have to do is pay for an extra hotel night instead of paying for their airfare as well. The only tricky part is that if the conference is not being coordinated by your own organization it can be difficult to gain access to the attendee list. If you don’t know which of your stakeholders will be attending it can make it a little more difficult to extend invitations strategically. However, you can also target local stakeholders in the city where the event is taking place; if you reach out and ask those stakeholders to come to your consultation it doesn’t really matter if they are already attending the other event because there will be no airfare/travel costs for them to attend anyway (the only expense will be food but you would have to provide that anyway).

Have good food at your consultation with stakeholders

Have good food for your stakeholders

7) Have good food: it’s the least you can do to thank people for their attendance, and it makes the day that much more enjoyable for them. Plus, the benefit to you is that your attendees will be able to think/ provide better input for you if they have had enough (and good) food and coffee. I usually ask the venue caterers to leave the coffee/tea and food out (as opposed to coming and picking up the food right after lunch) so people can ‘graze’ if they get hungry or need to be caffeinated throughout the meeting.

If you are a NeuroDevNet researcher or trainee and would like advice on how to plan your stakeholder consultation (or other stakeholder engagement activities), contact the KT Core.

Clear Language That Packs a KT Punch

This week’s blog is written by Stacie Ross, KT Assistant for the KT Core of NeuroDevNet.

NeuroDevNet’s KT Core has been producing our ResearchSnapshot clear language research summaries since 2014. We have 39 ResearchSnapshots posted on the NeuroDevNet site neurodevnet.ca. Responding to feedback from our researchers, we revised our process for clear language writing to take advantage of the expertise of our trainees who are close to the research being summarized.

How We Made a Change

Listening to our researchers allowed us to implement a new process that streamlined and simplified the writing process while at the same time created a ResearchSnapshot that more accurately reflected the original research being summarized. The result will be a more succinct and easy-to-understand review, and trainee writers who have developed clear writing as a new skill and produced clear language research summaries can place these non-academic publications on their CVs. Trainees are encouraged to review our process and think about whether they would like to work with the KT Core, to create a clear language summary of either their own peer-reviewed publication or one from their supervisor.

Revised Process Flow Chart for ResearchSnapshots

Revised Process Created Through Trainee Feedback

The detailed process was designed through a few meetings, incorporating feedback, and testing logistics. The umbrella process without all of the details is really four simple steps for us.

  1. Create an instructional webinar on how to write clear language summaries.
  2. Invite our NeuroDevNet trainees to the webinar/to view it online afterwards.
  3. Put out a network-wide call for papers.
  4. Send regular reminders to the network to submit papers.

On August 14th, 2015, we held a webinar to inform NeuroDevNet trainees about clear language summaries and how to write a ResearchSnapshot. Michael Johnny, Manager of Knowledge Mobilization at York University and Anneliese Poetz, Manager, Knowledge Translation (KT Core) outlined just how important design and clear language are for the reader to be able to understand the science behind the ResearchSnapshot. The webinar was a success with great comments received through an online survey afterwards.

“I liked that I came into it knowing nothing about the topic and not being really sure what to expect, but found that I now understand the importance and function of research snapshots.”

“The webinar was a great opportunity to learn about [NeuroDevNet] and clear language writing.”

We also received some tips on how to improve our next webinar. One example,

“I would have liked to see an example of a good research snapshot and a research snapshot that is not meeting criteria. That would have allowed us to have a clearer understanding of what to strive for and what to avoid.”

We will seek to address this valuable feedback in future training sessions.

As I am new to NeuroDevNet, I enjoyed being a part of the webinar and getting to know the process and clear writing expectations. View the webinar to learn about the value of clear language. I am looking forward to creating many more ResearchSnapshots and contributing clear language summaries that can speak to diverse stakeholders and provide them with the information they need to make decisions, to be informed, to provide care, to access more information.

Dr. Jarred Garfinkle’s ResearchSnapshot, “How Much of Cerebral Palsy is Caused by Genetics,” will be a clear language summary of Dr. Maryam Oskoui’s publication, “Clinically relevant copy number variations detected in cerebral palsy.” This will be my first ResearchSnapshot that I have coordinated. The draft is in, it’s terrific, and the process has been smooth and simple thus far. With the support of the online webinar, the existing ResearchSnapshots for reference, the knowledge mobilization writing guide, and myself and the entire KT Core, bringing evidence into practice is proving to be efficient and effective and exciting!

If you are a NeuroDevNet researcher or trainee and have a peer-reviewed publication you’d like to translate into a ResearchSnapshot clear language research summary, contact the KT Core.

Embedded KT Support within Project Teams – working the “Co-Produced Pathway to Impact” for NeuroDevNet NCE

by Anneliese Poetz, KT Manager, NeuroDevNet

In a recent blog post we told you about the development of a “Hybrid” tool that combines aspects of KT Planning with principles of project management. While this tool is appropriate for use by any researcher or trainee, we primarily developed it for use by NeuroDevNet’s 4 High Impact Projects (HIPs). The HIPs were chosen from existing NeuroDevNet research projects after the Research Management Committee directed that NeuroDevNet focus on 4-5 projects that had the “highest potential for creating impacts on diagnostics, interventions and services” during Cycle II. The idea is that by working closely with a small number of projects we can maximize the chances we will have specific examples of how we have achieved impact during Cycle II, to best position NeuroDevNet for Cycle III renewal. The process took several months, and began with a call to PIs to ask them to select projects within their programs that would fit the criteria to become a HIP. The KT Core made recommendations and the final High Impact Projects were approved by Dan Goldowitz, Scientific Director for NeuroDevNet.

Social ABCs High Impact Project Team members meeting with KT Core.

Social ABCs (ASD) High Impact Project Team members meeting with KT Core.

We provided the 4 HIPs with the Hybrid tool to use for drafting their KT plans for the next 5 years (Cycle II for NeuroDevNet). Over the course of this summer, David Phipps (KT Lead, NeuroDevNet) and I met with 3 out of the 4 HIP project teams for 1.5-2 days in-person to review their KT Plan with them and collaboratively refine it as needed.

This is exciting for NeuroDevNet’s KT Core, because it is the first time there have been KT practitioners (KT supports within an organization) embedded within project teams in this way. The information gathered within the Hybrid KT Planning tool will provide the information needed to manage the timelines and milestones for these KT plans during Cycle II. The aim is to work with project teams so that by the time we write our application for Cycle III funding we will have concrete examples of impact.

Screening & Intervention (FASD) High Impact Project team members working on KT Plan with NeuroDevNet's KT Core

Screening & Intervention (FASD) High Impact Project team members working on KT Plan with NeuroDevNet’s KT Core

The first meeting we attended was for a project in the ASD program called Social ABCs, the next was for the FASD program’s Screening & Intervention project, and finally the CP Program’s Exergame project. The first two were more focused on KT activities toward achieving uptake and implementation of their respective interventions into programs that serve children and families affected by ASD and/or FASD while the latter is more focused on commercialization of the Exergame technology and games for home use. In all meetings, the project team members (researchers, research support staff, practitioners/partners etc.) were fully engaged and commented afterwards about how useful this process has been for them: both the tool we provided and the in-person meetings.

As part of the process we are listening to project team members for their feedback on the Hybrid KT planning tool in order to inform future iterations. After the in-person meetings the KT Core continues to work with the HIPs to further refine and finalize their KT plan, and also to determine the best ways in which we can integrate with project teams and support their KT goals for Cycle II. We view this as an iterative process, and we will review these KT plans on an annual basis with follow up in-person meetings with project teams.

These HIPs are pilot projects – the KT Core remains available to help all NeuroDevNet projects with KT Planning and other KT services.

If you are a NeuroDevNet researcher or trainee and would like help with your KT plan for a grant application or for your already-funded NeuroDevNet project(s) contact the KT Core to find out how we can help.

5 tips for writing the KT section of your research grant application

grant writing pen page

by Anneliese Poetz, KT Manager, NeuroDevNet

1. Don’t over-cite KT literature – cite some relevant KT literature, and describe one framework but choose one that makes sense for your research-to-impact goals. But resist the urge to over-cite the KT literature in place of describing your KT plan. Dazzling the funder with your knowledge about what frameworks are out there is not going to impress them. Instead, tell them what you are going to do to help maximize the chances that people will use your research findings.

2. Write your research proposal first – Some researchers try to write their KT plan in parallel with their research proposal. However, your KT plan depends on what you are going to do for your research. For example, the audiences you choose and the strategies you use to reach them depend on what your project is about and what you hope will happen with those findings. When you contact the KT Core for help, send us your full proposal, along with the link to the application requirements to ensure we have the information we need to provide you with the best service.

Scientist Money beaker

3. Budget appropriately for your KT activities – you can have a most impressive KT plan, but you also need to allocate an appropriate portion of your budget to be able to follow through. If you have no idea what certain activities may cost (or how much time they will take to do) contact the KT Core.

4. Think beyond dissemination – it is common for researchers to primarily think about publications and conference presentations as KT. While they are end-of-grant KT, they are not enough to impress a funder. Tell them about how you will engage with your stakeholders early on and throughout the project (integrated knowledge translation) and describe how you believe this will maximize the chances that your research will be taken up into practice, implemented, and eventually achieve impact.

5. Get creative – it is okay to propose to do KT activities that have been done before, such as producing clear language summaries, infographics and videos. But what else can you do that will make sense for your project? For example, can you hold a community event? Can you use an arts-based approach such as a play or a hands-on community workshop? Get creative! Brainstorm with your research team to think about how (and how many different ways) you can get the main messages of your research to your target audience(s).

If you would like help with the KT planning section of your research grant application, contact the KT Core to see how we can help.

What happens when KT Planning and Project Management worlds collide?

by Anneliese Poetz, KT Manager, NeuroDevNet

PinkYellowDropsInWaterThe answer: you get a hybrid tool for researchers to use for developing a KT plan with activities that are linked with the elements of a project charter.

The dictionary defines “hybrid” as: “a thing made by combining two different elements; a mixture.”

NeuroDevNet’s KT Core recently finalized the creation of a new innovative tool for combining KT Planning with principles from the field of project management. Indeed, it is a ‘mixture’ of elements from both. Someone asked me recently: why did you create the Hybrid KT Planning and Project Management tool (short form: ‘the Hybrid tool’). NeuroDevNet NCE was renewed for another 5 years of funding (Cycle II), and we needed a tool that could be used for any project, that would help us manage KT plans for projects in Cycle II and help keep them on track. We believe that doing this will position us well for applying for Cycle III.

Another person asked me, what was your process for creating the Hybrid tool?

1) Identified a need for a custom tool to facilitate KT Planning for NeuroDevNet’s Cycle II projects after conducting a review of existing KT Planning guides and testing them internally to determine their usefulness

2) Based on the review of KT Planning Guides, we chose 2 key tools to build upon: 1) Melanie Barwick’s (Sick Kids) 13-step Scientist Knowledge Translation Plan template for its comprehensiveness, and 2) Purmina Sundar’s (Ontario Centre of Excellence for Child and Youth Mental Health) form-fillable KMb Toolkit for its ease of use and content, as well as 6 different examples of project charters provided by colleagues

3) Identified areas of overlap (e.g. people involved, identification of activities/deliverables) and linked these with corresponding sections of project charters. I literally pulled these resources apart and put them back together in a different arrangement

4) Composed original text for the purpose of providing additional information (e.g. tips for stakeholder engagement as part of an iKT strategy) and tables that mirror those required for NCE progress reporting

5) Identified places in the document where information would have to be duplicated, and noted where .pdf form-fillable document should auto-populate the information to make it easier for project teams to work with

6) Once the word document was drafted, it was shared with Principal Investigators, NeuroDevNet Headquarters, the KT Core’s KT Steering Committee, and the KT Core’s McMaster and McGill sites for feedback

7) Finalized content in response to feedback and sent to graphic designer who created the working form-fillable version

I recently presented at a KT Conference, and explained some of the requirements of our researchers and how we addressed them before finalizing the Hybrid tool. In the presentation below, you can see the requirements we gathered (from stakeholders listed in step 5 above) and how we addressed them. The presentation ends with a few points as to why we think this tool is important:

We wish to thank Melanie Barwick (Sick Kids) and Purnima Sundar (OCE CYMH) for giving us permission to use content from their KT Planning tools.

The Hybrid tool has been peer-reviewed, and tested for functionality. It is not available online yet, but we do plan to make it publicly available.

If you are a NeuroDevNet researcher or trainee and would like to use the Hybrid tool for your KT Planning, contact the KT Core.

What is Social Media & Where to Start?

KTsocialmediaguidepdf

Blog post by:  Isaac Coplan, @neurodevnetkt

The KT Core has produced a new resource for NeuroDevNet researchers and trainees, referred to as the social media “guide of guides”. It is the newest addition to our collection of KT Tools that we feature on the NeuroDevNet Website. It is an annotated bibliography of the best and most applicable published guides for researchers to “do KT” for their research.

Starting to use social media for Knowledge Translation can be overwhelming, especially for busy researchers who are not familiar with social media and who might not see the value of it for dissemination and stakeholder engagement. Indeed, a simple Google search will result in a large number of articles, blogs and websites that promise to direct you on how to start. Many of them charge money for unnecessary programs or services related to social media– and few are directly related to KT. Before I began my position as KT Coordinator with NeuroDevNet, Krista Jensen (of the York University Knowledge Mobilization Unit) and Elle Seymour (former KT Coordinator, NeuroDevNet) had conducted a search and narrowed them down to the top guides. I was happy to help finalize the guide and organized them from guides targeted at the beginner level to more advanced levels.

Our “guide of guides” begins with a section that explains the value of social media for researchers, for KT purposes and organizes the guides reviewed into several other sections:

Why use social media?

Planning & Strategic Social Media Guides

Advanced resources, metrics and tools for measuring social media reach           

While social media is certainly transforming the way that information is viewed, communicated and shared it isn’t necessarily making these processes simple. Social media requires planning – and for more complex strategies, can require designated staff. If you are beginning to use social media – you may be curious about how it has helped researchers with KT. The first section “Why use social media?” provides links and useful annotations to a variety of resources. This can provide you with initial push to start thinking about social media and answer some of your questions about why researchers use different platforms. Another example of how this guide may be used, is if there is a researcher who connects with people online, but hasn’t started thinking about social media strategically. The “Planning & Strategic Social Media Guides” section has resources that will help you move from a casual social media user – to a more strategic user. The final section “Advanced resources, metrics and tools for measuring social media reach” looks at tools that can provide you with more advanced thinking on social media. The guides in this section cover topics such as tracking research, reach of your social media channels and  data visualization.

Overall- there are many advantages to social media use by researchers – one of the overarching benefits is the number of people that are now using social media regularly, which means the number of stakeholders that can be reached in this way by researchers is also greater. These stakeholders include: researchers from institutions around the world, mainstream media, research networks, non-profit organizations, community organizations, health care institutions, government offices and education institutions from most of the world to name a few.

Click

This guide is a good reference for researchers and trainees who want to start using social media for KT. If you are a researcher/trainee and already using social media, you can use the more advanced guides referenced in this “guide of guides” in order to approach social media more strategically. Social media doesn’t have to be mystical – these guides can help you.

If you are a NeuroDevNet researcher or trainee we can help you learn how to use social media for KT, or help you advance your existing strategy, contact the KT Core!

Knowledge Translation (KT) is an attitude before it is a process

by Anneliese Poetz, KT Manager, NeuroDevNet

CollageOfWordMagnetsIf you search for KT models in the literature, you will find several ‘models’ for how KT should ideally happen. Many are comprised of a complex configuration of boxes, arrows, 3-D cone shapes to show the ‘process’ for doing KT (mostly end-of-grant KT). As a result of my PhD work, I developed a KT model that is grounded in the qualitative data I collected, that shows how KT actually happens in complex decision-making systems (for integrated-knowledge translation and end-of-grant KT). I also know that some develop their own model for describing and guiding the process for doing KT in their specific organization. But one thing is true no matter what model or context you are operating within: before you can effectively utilize any model or process for doing KT the people involved have to have the right attitude. If they don’t, even the ‘best’ KT process/model in the universe won’t be effective.

So what is the right attitude? You have to really want to do KT. That’s it.

Below is certainly not an exhaustive list but it gives you the idea.  For:

Hmmm1) Researchers (graduate students to established researchers): you have to sincerely want your research to be useful and used. You need to think at the outset of your research “who will actually find this research useful as I have proposed it?” and go talk to some of them, tell them what you are planning to do and be responsive to their feedback. Being responsive means being willing to change some or all of your research questions in order to make sure your research will answer the questions they have – this is also called addressing gaps in knowledge/evidence.

However, having the right attitude towards ‘end-of-grant KT’ (dissemination) is different than having the right attitude towards ‘integrated knowledge translation’. If you involve these and other diverse stakeholders in the research process, this is called ‘co-production’ and is the most effective way to achieve uptake, implementation and ultimately impact of your research.

If you do these things, you will have maximized the chances your research will useful and used.

CPDecisionMaker_MobileAnalysisLab2) Decision-makers: you have to sincerely want to make evidence-informed decisions and you have to have the organizational support to do so. Decision-makers include practitioners such as frontline staff such as nurses, doctors/clinicians, occupational therapists etc. (since they make several decisions during the course of their work day) as well as program managers (since they make policies, decisions about program components, therapies offered, intake criteria for potential clients which includes assessment and diagnosis) and hospital (and other) CEOs.

3) Organizations: Most people I’ve met are sincerely interested in making decisions based on the latest science. However, they face barriers such as: lack of time to read/absorb journal articles and limited access to journals. Other barriers could include organizational policies and procedures that require things to be done in a certain way, financial (limited resources), political (community/public pressure), and client/patient preferences (for example, treatment options).

So, individuals need to have the right attitude towards KT, but even then the organization has to facilitate this with its own expression of attitude toward KT evidenced by investing in the necessary structure and supports. For example: facilitating access to scientific journals and providing staff with paid time to get up to speed on the latest research (e.g. time to read literature, meet with researchers, attend conferences, attend stakeholder consultations being led by a researcher as part of their IKT, etc.).

Perhaps more importantly, organizations (including governments) that are willing and able to make the effort to stand up to political pressure by making the right decision as supported by the evidence instead of the decision that is popular in the community demonstrate a strong attitude toward evidence-informed decision making.

InsiteTrustTheEvidenceAn example of this can be found in the history of the supervised injection facility in Vancouver called Insite. After a long battle over community (mis)perceptions about the impact it would have, Insite has provided much evidence to show its positive impact on the health of the community, the individuals who attend the clinic, and savings to the health care system.

 

If you are a NeuroDevNet researcher or trainee and need help developing a KT plan (our KT planning service) or finding key stakeholders to consult with or involve in your research (our brokering service), contact the KT Core. In addition to brokering relationships we can offer tools/guides, advice, and review of your KT Plan for end-of-grant and integrated KT.