Creating a new generation of data to solve social problems.
One of the most powerful tools that we use is the Success Equation. We use this framework at the beginning of almost every client engagement and every workshop that we lead. It encourages organizations to consider their impact as a simple regression equation: A + B + C = D.
D is the ultimate impact you’re trying to achieve. A, B, and C are the intermediate steps that lead to that impact. They are the intermediate outcomes. Your research and theory of change suggest that if you accomplish A, B, and C, then you will also accomplish D. Only after the A, B, C, and D have been defined do we start talking about measurement.
If A, B, and C are appropriately defined, then measurement is relatively simple. It is when the desired outcomes are vague or flowery that measurement becomes complicated. Often, organizations catch themselves trying to measure D (e.g. defining success for their job-placement agency as the community-wide unemployment rate) or measuring the strategies that lead to A, B, and C (e.g. defining success as the number of pamphlets distributed).
This simple framework was first introduced in Jason’s book Benchmarking for Nonprofits. It continues to have a clarifying effect for our clients and the organizations we encounter in conference and workshop settings. We hope it can provide the same value for you!