Right, I know my Social Enterprise needs an Impact Led Strategy.. So, how do I do it?

MAI Impact Led StrategyKnowing you need an Impact Led Strategy is one thing; actually getting and implementing one is where the real fun starts.

Now, because I’m a very friendly person with the love of nature and all mankind at heart, I’m going to right here, right now GIVE you the steps you need to make this happen for your organisation…

So, how do you do it? Well, it’s as simple as 1, 2, 3…

Step 1: Decide on the problem you want to solve

As a Social Entrepreneur, your purpose is not a job. It’s not even a career. It’s a way of life, and therefore your commitment to it should be wholehearted.

Therefore, having a very clear purpose to solve a very clear problem is extremely important.

It could be:

  • My purpose is to ensure all children are free from cancer
  • My purpose is to work towards a world where everyone has access to safe and affordable accommodation
  • My purpose is to ensure people are free from domestic abuse

Purpose + Problem x Commitment = Impact.

Step 2: How best can you solve this problem?

It’s easy to answer this by thinking of what you’re already doing to solve the problem, however, in all respect, the actions you’re taking now might not always be the best way to solve it and create the most impact. For an Impact Led Strategy to really work, ask yourself the following questions:

  • If money, time or resources weren’t an issue, what would the ideal service look like to achieve the desired impact?
  • How, when and where would it be delivered?
  • Who would the service be delivered to?

If any of those answers differ to your current services, then there could be a disconnect, and now’s a great time to re-evaluate.

Step 3: What needs to change within the business to make this happen?

It’s now time to think about what the Operations, Facilities, Marketing, Sales, Finance & Management and Organisation should look like if it’s to solve the problem in the best way.

Taking each department of the business in turn, ask yourself:

  • What should this department look like?
  • What would be required of it?
  • How different is this to what you currently have in place?

What facilities would you need to deliver your services?

  • How will you transition from a service delivery led organisation to an impact led organisation?
  • What financial resources would be required to deliver this?
  • Do you have these or do you need more/less?
  • Would it be better to work with more/less people and have a greater impact?

For example, for Finance it might mean looking at how resources are spent with impact being part of the decision-making criteria.  For Facilities and Operations it would include looking at how you need to deliver your services to create the most impact.  Do you need to own property?  Is an office, remote working or some other combination more effective?

See, on the surface, these questions seem pretty simple, however, it’s only when you really delve in deep do you uncover the true gaps that need plugging.

Bonus Step: Any other business…

The beauty of an Impact Led Strategy is how it really gets in to the nooks and crannies of your business, ensuring everything is working as best as it should and towards the same impact-led goal.

At every point of the strategy development, you need to ask yourself if what you’re planning to do will maximise its impact…Note, this is a brilliant habit to get into in all areas of your life, too!

Ask yourself:

  • Which activities/services will contribute most to achieving the impact?
  • How will you know you are achieving your desired impact? How will you measure if you are having the impact you intended?
  • Do your performance measures include impact measures as well as financial measures?
  • Is this data regularly shared across the organisation and reported to the Board?
  • Is impact the focus for learning and development in the organisation?
  • Do you focus on how you can continually improve and learn from your delivery to generate more impact?
  • Is impact measurement and reporting part of your job descriptions, objectives and appraisals for every employee?

In HR this would include shifting from having staff, volunteers and Board members who see their role as just providing a service to seeing it as delivering impact.  This means talking about the difference the work makes rather than describing the activities you deliver.  It also means connecting what each person does to the impact the organisation has, so they can see the importance of their role and encouraging continuous improvement in order to achieve more impact.

The final question to ask throughout the development of your impact led strategy is:

Does this help to create and achieve a greater impact?  If not, why are you doing it?

Make An Impact CIC are experts in helping social enterprises create and implement impact led strategies that DO NOT cost the earth.

If you’d like a friendly chat about whether your organisation needs one, email heidi@heidilfisher.com and I’ll happily talk you through it.