Social Impact, Wellbeing and the Things that Really Matter – Part 2

 By Steve Coles, Intentionality CIC

In Part 1 of my blog I explored a little of my background and why I got involved in social impact analytics, as well as explaining the two key things that I, and the social impact consultancy that I founded, Intentionality CIC, think really matter. In short, we believe social impact analysis should ‘Measure What Matters’ and what matters is ‘The Mission’.  We also think that ‘Wellbeing Really Matters’ and that having a good understanding of what makes the biggest difference in the lives of individuals, families and communities is essential to both analysing impact and planning for impact.  In this second part I want to explore three further things that we think really matter.

Stakeholders Really Matter. We love it that SROI and other tools and methodologies put stakeholders – beneficiaries, customers, service users – at the heart of social impact analysis and agree that it is both the right thing and a valuable thing to do.

Jeremy Nicholls of the SROI Network and of SIAA says, ‘The point of impact measurement is to provide stakeholders with the information they need in order to hold organisations and their financial investors to account’.  We agree.

We’ve also seen time and time again that there is rich learning to be found from talking and listening to stakeholders.  And that’s the language we prefer – talking and listening – not surveying, consulting, engaging or interviewing (although these are perfectly acceptable tools in the analysis toolkit).  Listen to your stakeholders, they matter.

Rituals Really Matter. As in the first part of this blog we draw on the advice and experience of Kevin Lynch and Julius Walls, Jr., in their book Mission, inc. in which they say ‘ritual makes your mission visible and cherished’.  Rituals, celebrations, rhythms, parties, awards, presentations, certificates, gifts, maps, charts and story-telling can all embody a mission and bring it to life. Make it real.  Make it meaningful and valuable.  Make it part of the life of an organisation.  We say ‘celebrate impact’ – have a team lunch (which doesn’t need to be an expensive affair) when 10 people get jobs, award certificates when 20 young people finish a course, give everyone an hour off when 30 solar panels have been sold etc…

Finally, Improvement Really Matters.  A final tip from Lynch and Walls, Jr., ‘measure impact to improve it’.  We think social impact analytics ought to be about improvement, learning, growing, doing better and doing more with the resources available.  Within Intentionality, and also with our clients, we seek to learn lessons, set targets not for targets’ sake but to provide a benchmark for review, discussion and reflection, to share successes (including with ‘competitors’, networks and the sector) and to accept feedback.  Even if it’s critical, use it to get better next time.

So remember the 5 tips to social impact: measure what matters – ‘The Mission,’ wellbeing really matters, stakeholders really matter, rituals really matter and improvement really matters.  Great social impact analytics should make these things part of day-to-day culture and practice.

Thanks for reading and do get in touch with any comments, top tips or stories.  We’d love to hear them.


 

Steve Coles is the founder and Managing Director of Intentionality CIC, was the part-time Social Enterprise Development Manager for The Salvation Army in the UK between 2009 and 2013, and is a Fellow of the RSA and a member of the Social Enterprise UK Council, SROI Network, and of SIAA.

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