A simple enough question, one I’ve asked myself many times, the difficult as always is in the answer!
From a personal perspective to be changemaker you need to be able to visualise, plan for and demonstrate that change is or will occur and that really it has a positive social impact. And there are many ways in which that can be done. From simple tools which look at impact measurement to very complex matrices which look at the investment, outputs, outcomes and impact and give me a headache.
I recently attended a session with the Social Enterprise London on measuring social impact and found to my surprise there is a simple mechanism which can be used at any stage of a project.
The Map IT process takes you through the journey of the project from activities and outputs through to short term outcomes and longer term impact. The hardest being the end goal, but taking a step by step approach I found this became easier. This is something which you may wish to review – do I start with what I’m doing and see what change/impact will occur or do I start with where I want to impact and work towards what activities need to be done?
What resources do you have (or will acquire) to complete the activities e.g. trainers
What are the products, projects or processes that allow you to fulfil your objectives? e.g. a training programme
What is produced as a direct result of these actions? Generally depict completion of activity e.g. 15 participants complete training programme
Short Term Outcomes
What benefit or change is accomplished, in the short term, as a direct result of the output
Long term Outcomes/Impact
What your organisation is able to achieve and is attributed to your organisation over the long-term as a result of combined outcomes
This simple mapping process is of course a start, but it allows you to have a quick insight into what impact your projects or activities could have and importantly for me why. I applied this process recently to a DesignJam challenge – at first the others on my group thought I was mad, but then they could see that our project was going to have an larger impact and it strengthened our resolve, our drive and refined our brief.
So, if you’re a changemakers you need to have walked through a simple model of seeing the end impact, knowing roughly where the impact will occur.
The other challenge is ‘well would this change happen anyway’ – can I prove the activities are really having the impact we expect? I always remember when writing a business case is that option is always ‘do nothing’ and then think through what would happen not if we go down plan a or plan b but what happens if we didn’t do anything at all
Take ECTO for example – what if percolab had decided to continue working from home and cafes would ECTO have formed anyway, if not where would all the members be now, what projects and collaboration wouldn’t have formed – this is easy in hindsight, but hindsight and foresight when measuring impact and seeing the change is what we need to do
And sometimes doing nothing seems the easiest option of all, but the real trick is knowing and applying the actions at the right time, to the right people in the right place and all that comes with a mix of intuition, trial and error (risk) and walking through it using something similar to the method above.
Introduction to Social Outcomes and Impact Assessment
A half-day workshop to see how social enterprises impact on social outcomes. Working with public sector organistions especially in today’s economical downturn, we understand that demonstrating success and impact links closes to the outcome of any projects as well as our own projects – equipage, ecto and many more in the future!
Gone are the days when organisations would take the risk ‘build it and they will come’, there is shift, for the better, to understanding the social impact of projects, products and the organisation itself.
Delivered by Social Enterprise London. The course was entitled: ‘introduction to social outcomes and impact assessment‘.
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