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Getting More from Measurement: Five Insights for Social Innovators

Knowledgebase
Publication Date: 
January, 2014
Source(s): 
ORS Impact

This piece captures five key insights to guide organizations as they develop ongoing Measurement, Learning, and Evaluation plans to achieve greater social impact:

  1. Theory of Change amplifies your impact—helping you focus on the linkages between, and assumptions underlying, your strategies and outcomes.
  2. Progress toward long-term goals is observable in interim measures.
  3. Setting targets along the way forecasts your trajectory and provides feedback that tells you if you’re moving in the right direction.
  4. Impactful measurement needs to align with the rhythm of your work and provide the right data at the right times.
  5. The payoff of measurement is in the practice, and putting that practice to use greatly increases your odds of success.

When confronted with measurement and evaluation, some turn first to the expensive and time-consuming practice of “gold standard” experimental designs requiring comparison groups to definitively prove whether an intervention delivers the expected results. While measurements of this type are reasonable in certain situations, they are often a stretch for the real world of social innovation and are limited in their timeliness, strategic value, cultural applicability, and validity for measuring the changes sought. 

You can get more for less—by deploying measurement based on social science rigor and valuing adaptability and learning. In other words, social innovation is best measured in real time and in ways that can be seamlessly woven into the rhythm of the business cycle and the daily practices of those responsible for funding, managing, and implementing social change.

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