b'Ask several people to define data and youll getby British economist Ronald Coase: If you just as many definitions. Even its pronunciation andtorture the data long enough, it will confess to plurality are in question. (We at Citygate Networkanything. By cherry-picking data or by framing prefer the pronunciation that rhymes with beta, andit in certain ways, we can spin data into informa-well often ignore the plural form of datadatum tion thats less useful and even destructive. Thats because its an odd word.) The term was born fromwhy we must pour much thought into what we the Latin word dare, or to give. Data, then, is whatsmeasure, why we measure it, how we measure it, given. Given means, what is beyond argument,and what biases might creep into the process if and thats what makes data so valuable.were not safeguarding it. Regardless, data is People are prone to seeing the informationextremely useful for several different purposes. they wish was there instead of what truly is there; thats called optimism bias. Ive been part of1. Data is useful fordecisions made with optimism bias, and thosemeasuring outcomes. usually turned out to be learning opportunities,C ollecting and measuring program out-so to speak. We also tend to favor informationcomes data is increasingly important for that confirms the beliefs we already have, rightrescue missions and kindred ministries. or wrong; thats called confirmation bias. For quite some time weve advocated that our We make many decisions at the subconsciousmembers measure outcomes in at least four level, and sometimes we do have to go with ourprimary domains: relationships (with God and gut; but when the Holy Spirit speaks, He overrulesothers); health (physical, mental, sobriety); eco-everythingdata included. But it seems that wenomics; and housing. Citygate Network member live primarily in that middle zone, where GodHelping Up Mission (HUM) in Baltimore meas-wants us to wrestle, research, and strive to under- ures 15 outcomes in its addiction recovery pro-stand. The Messages version of 2 Timothy 2:15gram. These outcomes, which staff strive to see reads, Concentrate on doing your best for God,realized in the lives of those who go through their In the world of program outcomes, data can demonstrate progress, change, and transformation. Data also helps to diagnose and correct problems in your programs.work you wont be ashamed of, laying out the truthprogram, nest into five major domain areas: com-plain and simple.mitted to sobriety; introduced/reconnected to Plain and simple. There are few things asGod; emotional and physical wellness; restored re-plain as numbers, which is why data is usuallylationships; and re-integrated into the community.expressed in numbers. But while numbers areWhile these areas may look a little different simple, we must be careful to interpret themfrom one ministry to another, define the win for correctly. Youre probably familiar with the quoteyour particular programs. In the words of HUM 8 WWW.CITYGATENETWORK.ORG SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2020'