Karen Pittman, a member of the Corporate Voices Advisory Board and president of the Forum for Youth Investment, has an extremely interesting and provocative column in the May 2008 Youth Today. Here’s the opening paragraph from the column, titled “Precision Engineering.”

Creating sound bites that are not only memorable but communicate a message is a passion of mine. Every now and then I hit one out of the park. “Problem-free isn’t fully prepared” is still in use after more than 15 years. I think “bringing precision to our passion” may be the next one to stick.

Karen says that passion and precision are sometimes seen as opposites. “The call for passion and precision is a call for us to blend them. Think head/heart. Capacity/motivation. Our actions improve when they are informed by both.”

Then she talks about how this helps to change the odds for young people.

Changing the odds for young people requires us to not only be passionate in our commitment to providing high-quality supports and opportunities to all youth, but precise in measuring how well we and they are doing, so that we can make real-time system adjustments. It’s not enough to care. We have to calculate, compare and count.

But, she says, developing metrics for our programs is not enough.

It is also not enough to simply develop metrics for our own programs. Young people don’t grow up in programs; they grow up in communities. We must develop community-level dashboards whose clear measurements compel community leaders to think differently, so that together they can act differently.

Karen then provides several examples and best-practice success stories. If you would like a copy of the entire column, leave us a comment on this blog (go to the link at the end of the post that says no comments/or comment) with your e-mail address. I’ll be delighted to e-mail you a copy of this informative column by Karen Pittman.

by Rob Jewell