Warren Wong on Unsplash

Design for Challenging Conversations

Mark VanderKlipp
3 min readSep 1, 2020


“Child sexual abuse is truly a wicked problem, rooted in a complex interplay of individual, relational, community, and societal factors. A simple slogan on a bumper sticker isn’t going to end it. To create meaningful change we have to prevent child sexual abuse before it happens.

We must build the public’s will to choose wise protective actions.”

Readers of our blog will know that we’ve been honored to help facilitate and build communications for the Public Will Campaign to End Child Sexual Abuse. Working in constant collaboration with the campaign’s Core Team, we helped design and implement the process, agenda, written and visual concepts for a community-wide Data Walk, reviewing the results of a Child Safety Survey conducted in six Northern Michigan counties. We’ve also authored a blog post for the Public Will Campaign that explains the work in greater detail.

So okay, what’s a Data Walk?

According to the Tamarack Institute, a Data Walk Process focuses on data sharing as the platform for multi-sector collaboration. During a Data Walk, community residents, service providers and other stakeholders review data presentations in small groups, interpret what the data means, and collaborate to use their respective knowledge and expertise to advance community change. It’s a process that can be used whether or not the stakeholders have been involved in the initiative from the beginning.

The intent of a Data Walk is not to offer a comprehensive overview of ALL available data — rather, to profile a small number of data points that are most pertinent, likely to generate rich dialogue, and will be helpful in fostering a more nuanced understanding of the priority issues we identified.

Of course the data that was collected as part of the Child Safety Survey has been analyzed and reviewed by professionals across many disciplines. But in order to make real, sustainable change within communities, we need to know what people feel and believe about this problem, so that we can increase the likelihood that they’ll be willing to act to protect children.

As a human-centered research technique, this process allows us to better understand how members of communities view the data, often questioning the implicit bias that the “experts” bring to their review, seeing only what they want to see in the data. With our community cohorts, we examined three broad subject areas:

  • How people see themselves in their community;
  • Willingness to talk about sexual abuse, and
  • Community awareness of risk factors commonly associated with child sexual abuse (CSA).

In order to deepen our capacity to listen both to the data and each other, we developed themed videos based on the perspective we asked our cohorts to adopt:

  • Listening from Context: Who participated in the survey, and how is the data confirming what I think/feel?
  • Listening from Facts: What am I hearing that might disconfirm my initial impressions?
  • Listening from Possibility: What might I do as a result of seeing this data?
  • Working Together Toward Solutions: How can we now work together to build messaging platforms that might help us end child sexual abuse?

The video below served as the introduction to our learning cohorts, preparing them for the conversations that took place over two weeks in August, 2020. Learn more about our campaign, process and next steps by reviewing the blog post on the Public Will site.

We believe that all children have a fundamental right to be safe from sexual abuse and that all members of society have a role to play in keeping children safe. The goal of the Public Will Campaign is to make this belief a reality.

— Data Walk Introductory Video

Originally posted August 13, 2020 on www.connect-cx.com



Mark VanderKlipp

Partner at Connect_CX, The Adjacency; speaker, facilitator, systems thinker, healthcare experience designer: www.connect-cx.com