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Start scoping problems

On the day of the scope-a-thon, prepare participants to hear and understand community challenges before diving into data-drivensolutions.
At the start of the scope-a-thon, community partners should share their background presentations and announce their priority challenges. Once participants have had a chance to hear from each community partner, they should separate into medium-sized groups to begin discussing the details of partners' challenges.

Set expectations early

It's easy to get swept up in the excitement of biting into a new challenge. When the potential for a technological or data solution is presented, there can sometimes be an eagerness to apply the most innovative technology first. As University of Chicago's Civic Scope-a-thon keynote speaker Matt Gee pointed out, this is also known as the Peak of Inflated Expectations.
Credit: Gartner
However, stepping back from expectations to listen and learn about the real challenges that communities face can be both a daunting and humbling experience. Project participants should challenge themselves to set aside assumptions and listen openly to the expertise of community partners who have on-the-ground experience with local problem-solving.

Guidance for team discussions

First, assign each team a facilitator. Facilitators can help guide teams through the discussion topics outlined below. Facilitators should remember to be neutral, keep discussions focused, and resolve disagreements equitably with a focus on moving forward. Here is some sample guidance for facilitators.
Ultimately the day's goal is for each teams to put together a 10-minute presentation outlining the challenge their team aimed to tackle, and the data-driven solution they'd like to propose.
Once teams have been assembled, they should walk through each of the discussion topics below, starting with aligning around the partner organization's mission and desired impact. Teams should work through the discussion topics below throughout the day, spending extra time on scoping the final tools and solutions, and crafting a presentation.

Proposed discussion topics

  1. 1.
    Understand the organization's mission and desired impact
  2. 2.
    Identify essential stakeholders and challenges
  3. 3.
    Understand stakeholders' critical information needs
  4. 4.
    Understand and explore available data, including open data and organization's internal data
  5. 5.
    Select appropriate tools and methods for solutions

Present and evaluate solutions

Once teams have spent time discussing the nuances of challenges, they should present their final solutions. Presenters should be open to a discussion about the feasibility, impact, and sustainability of their proposed solutions.
Conveners can invite judges to help evaluate proposed solutions. Judges with subject matter or local expertise can ensure that solutions are feasible, particularly if scope-a-thon offers project support for winners. Below is a sample rubric that judges might use to evaluate presentations.
Problem articulation
Problem is well-defined.
Mapping the Data
Team used or proposed creative use of data.
Mapping the Solution
Likelihood of implementation of solution is high.
Overall presentation
Presentation was clear and compelling.