Posts tagged ‘Cost benefit analysis’

October 12, 2011

Are you a metric head or a story hugger?

If only I had read the post from Social Edge http://bit.ly/r3BIQe BEFORE I gave my speech at the Third Sector conference on Impact Measurement…I did talk a bit about which is more effective in communicating with funders and stakeholders – impact measurement or the emotional pull of a strong story.  But I didn’t use the funkier language of ‘metric head’ or ‘story hugger’, and most annoyingly I didn’t say the obvious thing which is…..that it isn’t either/or but it should be both.

I was asked to talk about using impact analysis to inform one’s strategic planning.  Colleagues who watched me make writing a simple document last year into the planning equivalent of walking up Mt Everest backwards without oxygen, might be forgiven for rolling their eyes, and asking ‘why her’?  I did find preparing this speech genuinely hard, and thought provoking.  However hard I tried to answer the question, I kept coming back to the idea that it was the wrong question – or rather that one needed to answer another question first.

The other question, is how are you going to use your understanding of the impact of your work based on your ‘theory of change’ every day for every colleague?  Impact analysis is not primarily about presenting great results to outside stakeholders, funders, commissioners etc.  It is about achieving real change for one’s beneficiaries, understanding how we achieve that change and capturing it in some ‘metric head’ sort of way.  But if we really believe our own results, then our primary focus must be on implementing them in our organisations.  I really believe that all those external stakeholders will spot pretty quickly if we are doing that and continuing to achieve real change.  The challenge is to make it real, keep it simple and implement it every day.  One of my wisest friends said that every organisation should be able to look at just three things to know whether they were on track and achieving their goals.  Three things…not thirty three.  For us they are engagement (are people engaging with our programmes), implementation (are they doing what we believe works) and learning (are we capturing best practice and sharing it around the country).  It focuses the mind.

And now I will get off my soap box!