Demonstrating Value Blog

May 27, 2015

Though I don’t follow baseball much, I do know enough that stats are a big part of the game. Thus this anecdote in Michael J. Mauboussin's article "The True Measures of Success" in the Harvard Business Review is pretty interesting:


"Baseball managers used to focus on a basic number—team batting average—when they talked about scoring runs. But after doing a proper statistical analysis, the A’s front office recognized that a player’s ability to get on base was a much better predictor of how many runs he would score."

They go on to recruit players with this ability, and do well by it.

What is interesting about this anecdote is that baseball teams aren't the only ones to...

May 5, 2015
Among competing management and planning priorities, it is not always easy to make time for improving systems to measure and communicate organizational performance and impact.  You also need to have solid buy-in for the process from others around you, including both leadership and front-line staff.  I've worked with many different organizations over the past few years, and along the way I've gathered a few observations for how organizations can successfully move ahead.  
1.  You are already spending lots of time measuring. Be more effective. Rare is the community-based organization that is not already spending lots of...
May 5, 2015

Over the past few years, I have often heard that  ‘Vancouver is the second least affordable city in the world.’  I usually use this metric to feel sorry for myself that I didn’t buy real estate right when I moved here 20 years ago.


When people say the word "world", I usually picture this:



Apparently it’s second most expensive in a world of only 9 countries.    Last time I checked (on Google) there were 265 countries!  While the snob in me loves to be compared only to such cities as Tokyo, London and Paris, the picture actually changes a lot when other countries are brought into the equation. Jim Sutherland takes this up in an article, Vancouvers problem isn't high housing costs...

April 28, 2015

The glossy photos of software solutions are very appealing: a person smiling and relaxed while working at a computer (and not looking like they are on the verge of throwing it against a wall); screenshots that show colourful graphics and easy to read data.   

If you are caught in a slow motion nightmare of implementing a new software system like a Customer Relationship Management (or other database) that is not going according to plan you are not alone.  According to many industry analysts, a huge number of CRM projects fall short.  Some even estimate more than half fail. 

In both businesses and non-profits (and everything in between), CRMs are a mix of policies, processes and strategies used...

April 27, 2015

Some of the most challenging impacts to define and measure relate to the value of arts and culture.  While it is quite common to see output numbers like attendance and participation rates for arts and culture-related initiatives, rarely do we see measures that relate to deeper impacts.  Yet without this, cultural investments often find themselves on the short end of the stick and are traded off in favour of competing investments.  


So what do we know about the role of arts and culture in creating social value?

The Urban Institute undertook an Arts and Culture Indicators Project over many years to look into this question.  The first publication in the series, Culture counts in communities: A framework for measurement...

April 14, 2015

This spring is full of social enterprise events, many of which touch upon measuring, understanding and communicating impact.  Thanks to enp BC for these event listing!


SFU Employment Dialogue Series: Social Enterprise

Tonight: April 14, 2015 (Surrey)


Social Impact Breakfast Session
April 28, 2015  (Prince George) Contact enpBC for more details

All about Impact
May 5, 2015 (Okanagan Region)
All about Impact is a full day of learning for social impact businesses featuring impact mapping, financing, and market assessment.

Building Your Social Enterprise 
May 7, 2015 (...

February 3, 2015

S.M.A.R.T goals are all the rage.  They appear everywhere, and are particularly loved in funding application forms and by strategic planning facilitators.   According to S.M.A.R.T, goals should be: S – specific ;  M – measurable; A - achievable; R – relevant and T - timely. (There is some variations as to the words that make up the acronym.) 


Goal setting is useful.  I am all for not having goals that are fluffy and too high level to be meaningful.  S.M.A.R.T is a useful (and catchy!) guideline for grounding goals in reality.   Sometimes though I think we go too far in setting out goals as a performance measures, rather than separating out the two, particularly when S.M.A.R.T is applied to community impact goals. 


Should we go for S.A.R.T. goals instead of S.M.A.R.T?    This is definitely...

February 3, 2015

Starting a social enterprise in a non-profit often starts with a simple idea – renting out space, starting a gift store, offering a current service to a new (paying) market, providing supportive employment opportunities to clients.   

At planning and start-up, the social enterprise is at the front of everybody ‘s minds, but once it is up and running, it often falls to only a few people, and attention will turn to other issues.  Yet, running an enterprise often turns out to be much more complex and resource intense than expected, with a lot of unexpected bumps and u-turns.  Because something is in the background, doesn’t mean that all is well, or that there aren’t ways to better support the enterprise.   Periodically it can be really beneficial for both the ‘parent’ and social enterprise to step back...

January 19, 2015

On a daily basis I receive a lot of spam mail about how I can make my website better and drive more people to it.  Thus I was a little skeptical when I came across BDC's Free Website Evaluation tool that promises to make it so you can “start improving your website today!”  At the same time, I do find it hard to understand how the Demonstrating Value website is performing, particularly as it relates to other websites out there, and I have some confidence that the tool's host, the BDC, is fairly reputable as a federal crown corporation. I always like the idea of free assessment tools.


So I took the step of entering into the little box, and very quickly (before I could even...

January 13, 2015

Measuring quality of life is a HUGE area and is increasingly being done to understand the key outcomes of many programs, particularly in social services, health care, community development and education. This is great!  Interest in measuring quality of life gets to the core of what measurement should be about - measuring what matters - rather than sticking with what is easy and not particularly important. As Albert Einstein (may have) said: “Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.”


Quality of Life is a concept that is closely related, and sometimes used interchangeably with others - life satisfaction, happiness, well-being.  Interestingly we are coming to quality of life and well being measurement from many different directions:

  1.  The ...