When I was a corporate consultant in the 1990s, ‘continuous improvement’ was sneered at somewhat. It was the opposite of the ‘step change’ and ‘radical redesign’ that we found more exciting and that our clients thought justified our fees.
But at a recent conference about measuring social outcomes, I was emphasising that the key reason to measure impact in the for-purpose space was to enable us to keep on getting better social outcomes. “To continuously improve,” someone observed: and they were bang on. We have to inculcate a culture of improvement, and to do that we have to plan, measure and reflect. The article, Embedding continuous improvement, in this issue picks this idea up and, simply, lays out what it means in practice.
That ‘in practice’ is also important. We are great fans of shiny new ideas: ‘radical redesign’, ‘core process reengineering’, and – more recently – ‘social impact bonds’, ‘collective impact’ and ‘shared value’ (the latter pair brilliant insights developed by our respected colleagues at FSG in the US). Rather than understanding them and applying them selectively, wisely and effectively, we are inclined to embrace them as labels and hope that the magic rubs off as we continue to do the same thing, albeit with a different badge.
So the rest of this issue is about actually doing things differently, and outlines practical steps to building an impact investing market in Australia, to making collaborations work, to using SROI in different ways, and to getting the best out of younger board appointees. We’re also rerunning an article about how the Centre for Eye Research Australia used collective knowledge in the development of its strategy.
We hope this ‘how to’ issue gives you practical and useful advice. Feel free to argue, to add and to contact us if you want to discuss any of these ideas further.
Executive Director SVA Consulting
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