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  • Rachel Flood

The Power Of Why - How To Build Business Systems That Maximize Your Impact

Running a business, organisation, or project is no small feat! And with thousands of moving parts it is hard to know exactly how effective any one program, action, or offering is.


Yet, thanks to an overabundance of jargon and academic gatekeeping, impact measurement can seem like an overly complicated, expensive, and separate additional task in an ever-growing list of things you should be doing!


It need not be so complicated.


My Roots To Reports Method outlined below can help you to find your key metrics and begin to build an impact measurement framework for your business or organisation.


Impact and The Golden Circle


Simon Senik has an excellent TedX about what he calls the Golden Circle. That successful companies operate from the center of this golden circle, from the “why” they exist, outwards. Outwards through the “how” they do what they do, and then to the “what” they are doing. He says:


People don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it.


That the goal is not to do business with everybody who needs what you have, the goal is to do business with people who believe what you believe. Because our limbic brain, our deepest brain, is in control of our decision making and it is motivated by what we feel and if we resonate with something it fosters loyalty.


Therefore, if someone resonates with WHY you are doing what you are doing, they will be loyal and supportive of all of the various “whats” that you are doing.


Despite the capitalistic lens that Senik views the world through, this concept really resonated with me. In my estimation this essential "why" is the key to everything. Whether you are creating a movement or selling a product or anything in between, you need to know why you are doing it.


I have seen first-hand the profound effects of incorporating the why of your work into your operational design.


It is the only way to create any cohesive alignment between your larger vision and your daily operations; and it should be at the centre of all of your decision making, as well as all of your process design.


Put the time in to define:

  • Why your business or organisation exists

  • What you plan to do to serve this "why"

  • How you will know if you have been successful

  • And most importantly of all, how you will measure this success


This work will pay off, I promise you.


If you have these metrics, these changes, behaviours, results, stakeholder interactions, or outcomes in mind when creating your processes, and particularly before you invest in any software to run your business, you can bake impact measurement into the ongoing everyday tasks of your business.


Impact metrics need not be complicated. They need only reflect the actions you are taking and if those actions have been successful or not.


They are the cumulative actions and results that can give you real-time insights into your on-the-ground impact. They allow you to fine tune your current strategy and planning to best support the needs of your mission right now.


Use My Roots To Reports Method to Start Measuring Your Impact:


Step 1: Know your why. Ask yourself what problem are you trying to address?

Step 2: Write out the causes of this problem

Step 3: Dig deeper until you get to the root causes

Step 4: Write out what actions you are taking to address these root causes

Step 5: Brainstorm your metrics. What behaviours or changes do you expect?

Step 6: Brainstorm ways to capture these metrics using the tools you have right now


Here's a simple example

  1. I am always late for work

  2. Causes: Traffic, Getting up late, Leaving Late

  3. Root Causes: Binge watching Netflix before bed, Going to bed too late

  4. Actions: Set a bedtime, No Netflix before bed, Go to bed earlier

  5. Metrics: Number of times late/mo + reason

  6. Tools: Google Form to fill out every time I am late (#ProTip Google forms are dynamic and will give you built-in reporting that would be a time consuming pain to make yourself!)


Here's another more complicated example from my client work

  1. A local organisation exists because BC has an unsustainable food system

  2. Causes: Disconnection between consumers and farmers, Reliance on non-local seeds and/or crops, Climate change, Diminishing biodiversity

  3. Root Causes: Lack of access and/or connection points between consumers and farmers, Lack of access to local resilient seeds, Lack of regionally-specific support for farmers to change farming practices, Lack of support or reward for preserving biodiversity

  4. Actions: Events to celebrate local food and connect people with the farmers who grow it, Supporting BC farmers to use local seed, Help BC farmers to grow food in ways that mitigate climate change and protect biodiversity

  5. Metrics: # of connections between farmer and consumer, # of events to celebrate local food, # of local seeds acquired and planted by local farmers, # of farming practices changed, etc.

  6. Tools: Event registration forms, seed request forms, vendor signup forms, feedback surveys, famer training registration/request forms


By mapping things out in this way during the design phase of implementing a new stakeholder database, we were able to design the new operating procedures with impact measurement in mind. Which will pave the way for them becoming a truly data-driven organisation.


Measuring impact can seem overwhelming, but if you start now, you will get better at doing it over time. Starting is the key.


Begin where you are and create a culture where impact measurement matters and before you know it you will become a data-driven organisation. You will have operating systems that support your daily work AND give you the insights you need to have the biggest impact you can.