How to create an impact culture?
Here are some steps you could take to bring a greater focus on learning and improvement.
● Have a clear plan for impact measurement: Map out priorities and research questions, sources and tools, roles and responsibilities, and timings and milestones. This will help you involve staff and users.
● Communicate with people in your organisation: Share what impact measurement is, why it helps the organisation, and what your priorities are. It might help to share a simplified version of your plan and explore with staff how impact measurement might help them to do their job. Find out which arguments are most engaging for people and what barriers they think they might face.
● Create buy-in: Involve staff, volunteers, and service users in your impact measurement
processes. You could hold workshops on your plan or ask a sample of staff to comment
on drafts of data collection tools.
● Demonstrate how you use data to improve your work: You could share results and learning in internal communications and include impact measurement as a standing agenda item in team and board meetings. You could give people access to the data, so they can explore it for themselves, or set up a dashboard that shows information that is relevant to them.
● Define clear roles and responsibilities: Make everyone aware of their role and responsibilities in impact measurement. For example:
- Senior staff and trustees can promote impact measurement, set up systems, allocate resources, and communicate how the organisation is acting on what it has learned.
- Managers can promote good impact practice, connect people who might learn from one another, take time to understand the results, and think about what can be done to improve the programme or service.
- Frontline staff and volunteers are often responsible for service delivery and data collection, and can offer useful feedback about what is happening on the ground.
- Beneficiaries should have opportunities to share their views and contribute to the development of the service.
● Offer support and training for staff and volunteers: Defining clear roles from the start is a helpful way to identify who is leading on a project, who is coordinating data collection, who is responsible for data analysis, and so on. You may uncover skills gaps in the process. For example, you will need someone with data analysis skills to clean and manipulate data, and extract insights from it.
● Offer incentives and promote impact measurement: You could embed impact measurement into performance and pay, recruitment, strategy development, project management, and volunteer management. Get people to act as ‘impact champions’, and use team meetings to highlight examples.
● Make data collection and data use as easy as possible: Make processes simple -preferably part of the work itself – and provide immediate information that staff can use in their work. Shadow and talk to staff about collecting, reviewing, and sharing data. Survey staff or set up a feedback meeting to get views on the value and time required to collect and analyse data, and how to improve this.
● Set up systems and processes for learning: Find ways to encourage and make it easy for people to share their thoughts. You could cover learning in team meetings and set up mechanisms – intranets and forums – for staff to share insights with each other.
● Make sure your tools give you what you need: Check your tools for mistakes or glitches, and test the time it takes to carry out measurement. Pilot your tools with a sample of people who represent the population you want to get information from. Once your tools are live, keep testing them with a range of stakeholders.
● Be open to mistakes and failure: Disappointing results should be examined, and staff should feel encouraged to do this. Reflect on how you currently share findings within your organisation and beyond. How do people respond to disappointing results? How do you explore what could have been done differently and focus on improvement?
● Celebrate the positives: Recognise the team’s achievements, showcase success stories, and emphasise how your work makes a difference. Motivating staff and volunteers can make you more effective and more engaged in your work. Sharing achievements with beneficiaries can motivate them, too.
Adapted from content from Inspiring Impact partner NCVO