Now we are all measuring impact — but is anything changing?

Article by Griffith Centre for Systems Innovation: “…Increasingly the landscape of Impact Measurement is crowded, dynamic and contains a diversity of frameworks and approaches — which can mean we end up feeling like we’re looking at alphabet soup.

As we’ve traversed this landscape we’ve tried to make sense of it in various ways, and have begun to explore a matrix to represent the constellation of frameworks, approaches and models we’ve encountered in the process. As shown below, the matrix has two axes:

The horizontal axis provides us with a “time” delineation. Dividing the left and right sides between retrospective (ex post) and prospective (ex-ante) approaches to measuring impact.

More specifically the retrospective quadrants include approaches/frameworks/models that ask about events in the past: What impact did we have? While the prospective quadrants include approaches that ask about the possible future: What impact will we have?

The vertical axis provides us with a “purpose” delineation. Dividing the upper and lower parts between Impact Measurement + Management and Evaluation

The top-level quadrants, Impact Measurement + Management, focus on methods that count quantifiable data (i.e. time, dollars, widgets). These frameworks tend to measure outputs from activities/interventions. They tend to ask the question what happened or what could happen and rely significantly on quantitative data.

The bottom-level Evaluation quadrants include a range of approaches that look at a broader range of questions beyond counting. They include questions like: what changed and why? What was or might the interrelationships between changes be? They tend to draw on a mixture of quantitative and qualitative data to create a more cohesive understanding of changes that occurred, are occurring or could occur.

A word of warning: As with all frameworks, this matrix is a “construct” — a way for us to engage in sense-making and to critically discuss how impact measurement is being undertaken in our current context. We are sharing this as a starting point for a broader discussion. We welcome feedback, reflections, and challenges around how we have represented different approaches — we are not seeking a ‘true representation’, but rather, a starting point for dialogue about how all the methods that now abound are connected, entangled and constructed…(More)”