The Coco Canary Newsletter – October 2020

The Coco Canary Monthly Newsletter

October 2020

Welcome to the Coco Canary Newsletter!

Hello from Molly O’Connor, the CEO and founder of Coco Canary Consulting, LLC (CCC), an evaluation & communications firm based in St. Paul, MN.

Our Mission is to use our expertise to inspire inclusion, support social justice, and promote anti-racism culture.

You may ask, how do social justice and racial equity relate to evaluation or communication? Well, from our experience, we have seen evaluation be designed, and communications reported in ways that harm, undervalue, and take advantage of the communities being served. This is our current status quo, and it is not okay. It has to change. This is why we do our work differently because we want to be apart of the solution, not the problem.

Please visit Community Centric Fundraising for more information. It is a new movement that has inspired thousands (including Coco Canary) to do better. For extra credit, visit Consulting With a Racial Equity Lens too.

Strategic Doing, a new, innovative framework for strategic planning

Business Updates

1. Coco Canary is a Certified Strategic Doing Practitioner

Let me introduce you to my new favorite thing, Strategic Doing (SD):

“Strategic Doing teaches people how to form collaborations quickly, move them toward measurable outcomes, and make adjustments along the way. In today’s world, collaboration is essential to meet the complex challenges we face. Strategic Doing enables leaders to design and guide new networks that generate innovative solutions.”

As a recently certified SD practitioner, I can be hired to facilitate Strategic Doing workshops and facilitations for organizations and businesses. Also, as an evaluator, I integrate much of SD’s strategies and tools into my evaluation practice. To give you a bit of context, here is how SD works and what it could look like:

1. First, you bring a group of people together (usually people who have a shared common goal, values, or teammates) and create a brave space for deep, focused conversation

2. As a group, you co-create a framing question based on appreciative inquiry, not a problem statement. For example, a problem statement would be: “Why is our college drop-out rate so high?” While an appreciative question would be: “Imagine that dropping out was a rare exception in our college. What would that look like?”

3. With the framing question in place, individuals, then tell the group of any hidden assets they are willing to share, such as skills (tech, carpentry, etc.), capital (unused building space, etc.), and more. Once all the assets are listed out, this is when the fun begins because this is when the group brainstorms ideas for how these assets can be linked and leveraged to create new opportunities! 

4. When there are three solid ideas, you have to rank them to figure out which one to do. This is when the group votes (1 to 5) on the level of Impact and Ease of Implementation for each idea. Whichever one scores the highest is the “Big Easy” and it is the project the team will focus on first.

5. Once the project is determined and agreed upon, you convert it into measurable characteristics, create a Pathfinder project with guideposts (i.e., project management), and then draft a short-term action plan where everyone takes a small step (everyone gets a single one-hour task they have to complete). At the end of this meeting, you schedule a time, likely within 30 to 45 days where you review progress, plan for the next guidepost, and allocate small tasks again.

6. This is repeated until the Pathfinder project is complete. And in the process, the community strengthens, trust is built, and new collaboration habits are formed.

If you want to learn more, you can view this workshop summary sheet. And, of course, don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions!

A new White Paper created by Coco Canary, Building Your Logic Model: A Step-by-Step Guide

2. Building Your Logic Model: A Step-by-Step Guide

If you missed it, I wrote a blog post and published a downloadable step-by-step guide of how you can create your own logic model. If you don’t know what a logic model is, check out my blog post and determine if it is a good fit for your organization

3. Other Updates

I am on the ballot for the Minnesota Evaluation Association’s (MNEA) Communication Board

One of my favorite evaluation associations, MNEA, had a call for applicants for their communication board. I have been impressed with their programming and messaging and decided I would be honored to be apart of the team. Fortunately, my application was accepted, and now I am on the MNEA ballot for Communication Co-Chair. I’ll know by November if I have been voted in or not. I will keep you posted!

Minnesota Peacebuilding Leadership Institute’s (MPLI) STAR-lite program

I had the fortune of attending MPLI’s one-day Learning Strategies for Trauma Awareness and Resilience (STAR-lite) program. I found their training so helpful in building my knowledge of how society’s current structures have caused individual trauma, as well as collective, generational trauma. These traumas result in cycles of victimhood and/or violence. There is a way to break the cycles, but it is a long process; that requires us (the individual and us as a society) to reflect, listen, and learn how to support and promote restorative justice efforts.


Two updates in one! First, I am a new member of The Coven, a co-working space for women, non-binary, and trans people. This is thanks to their Community Sponsorship program, which is funded by the generosity of current members and Coven leadership. 

Through my membership, I saw a posting where there was funding for free admission to a 9-week business development workshop hosted by CO.STARTERS. I applied and was accepted into the program! I just finished week 3, and I am feeling grateful to have business dev guidance and a network of inspiring women to “hive-mind” with. 

There is a Pitch Night in mid-December that I will invite you all to closer to the date. 

Protesting for racial justice on the corner of Snelling and Marshall in St. Paul, MN

Personal Updates

1. Please Vote And Ways I Can Help

As most of you know, next Tuesday, November 3rd, is Election Day. A LOT is riding on this election, and it is in our hands to support the candidates that share our values. I care about the environment, police abolishment (or reform for now), criminal justice reform, indigenous rights, universal healthcare, and more. And I am voting for the candidate who is most likely to support these issues, which is Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.

Here are Two Ways I Can Help You

1. Whoever you are voting for, if you need information about where you vote, I can help you with that. Or if you are based in the Twin Cities area, and you need a ride to the polls on Tuesday, please email me. I am taking the day off to assist people in getting out the vote!

2. If you (or someone you know) are undecided on voting this year, don’t hesitate to contact me. Of course, I have a bias, but I will offer an ear and support.

Meet Birch, our new commune dog

2. We Have a Commune Dog!

If you recall, my partner, Mike, and I bought a house and moved in early September. Well, something I didn’t mention is that two other friends moved in with us, and we have created a commune-esque, intentional community. One housemate, in particular, really wanted a dog. So, in early October, she adopted our newest addition to the commune: Birch!

He was 6-months old when we got him, and he is growing so fast! He is an active pup with a gentle spirit. He loves pets, cuddles, and doing zoomies in the backyard. 

He has brought us a lot of joy during these dark times. I hope you all are finding ways to fill joy into your life as well.  

Let’s Stay Connected!

To keep up to date with Coco Canary, consider joining my email list (see the form below) or connecting with me on Linkedin. If you’re a WordPress user, don’t forget to follow my blog!

Be well and all the best,

Molly O’Connor (she/her/hers)

CEO – Evaluation & Communications Specialist
direct: (612) 868-0364

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Building Your Logic Model: A Step-by-Step Guide

Welcome to Coco Canary, we are happy you are here!

We are an evaluation & communications firm based in St. Paul, MN though we work with people from all over the United States!

A Brief Introduction About The Step-by-Step Guide

I am writing this post because I’ve been helping many of my clients create logic models recently, and there seems to be a need for more information. If you don’t know what a logic model is, it is a basic visual representation of how a program—or sometimes an organization—functions (Figure 1, also see document attached below). I can’t say it enough how important it is for a program to develop a logic model. Think of it as a snapshot of what your program does, who it serves, the goals it wants to reach, and the impact it wants to achieve.

Figure 1: A basic idea of a logic model for a program or organization

Why is it important to take the time to do this?

Well, If you need an evaluation done, meaning if you need someone to figure out how well your program is doing, a completed, well-thought-out logic model is sometimes all you need. This is because the logic model tells the evaluator what your goals are. From there, you can start developing a survey or interview protocol to assess if the program is reaching any of its short, medium, or long-term goals! And, well, the rest is history. Of course, this is simplifying the process—evaluation is a little bit more complicated than that—but it sure makes it go smoother!

When I do logic model development with my clients, I usually send them a document (attached below) that walks them through the process. It not only gives them the space to reflect deeply about their program but it simultaneously helps them build evaluation capacity, specifically with logic model creation. I’m a firm believer in sharing knowledge and capacity-building, which is why I am sharing this document with the world!

After Completing the Logic Model How-to Worksheet, you will have:

  1. A better understanding of evaluation and logic models
  2. An initial draft of your logic model

If you use this document and find it useful (or not useful!), please write in the comments below* or fill out the survey found at the end of the document. I am always trying to find ways to improve my practice and materials. Feedback is a surefire way to do that.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

All the best,

Molly O’Connor
CEO – Evaluation & Communications Specialist

*FYI, any comments may be used for testimonials for my website or promo materials.