My Starting Point for Measuring Impact

Over the holidays I was with friends I hadn’t seen in a while and a few did not know about my MS diagnosis and how it lead to volunteer work with EMCN.

“I’ve be helping guide one of their teams through the human-centered design process” I explained “by convening social innovation labs and nudging them to think beyond ‘the way they have always done things‘”

“MS has limited the number of productive hours I have in a day” I continued “so I want them to matter.  This means I’m also keenly interested in evaluating the impact of what we do”

 “Sounds interesting!” one person said “how do you measure the impact of an initiative?” 

A good question to which I realized I did not have a concrete answer.  I alluded to examples I read about and when I still received a glazed look of incomprehension I moved on to technical evaluation jibber-jabber I heard in podcasts. As a last resort I distracted the person with the snack tray.

Which leaves me with an unanswered question. So I started looking more closely at what I actually want to accomplish.

If I were going to dedicate my limited hours in a day to measuring the impact of an initiative, what would that look like?

As of today, this is where my thinking has landed me. (Initiative includes program, project, service, initiative…..)

One.  The initiative swims in the constant churn of complex dynamic challenges.   

Two.  The initiative gains momentum from learning about the ways in which it is not making a difference in people’s lives.

Three.  The initiative is emergent.   

Four.  The initiative is fueled by possibility.

Five.  Any evaluation of the initiative will need to embrace One, Two, Three and Four.