We recognise that the current economic climate is particularly challenging for young people. Whilst traditional employment opportunities are decreasing, young people are increasingly more prepared to take risks, embrace digital technology, and consider entrepreneurial employment opportunities. This is why we’ve started developing Task Squad.
People argue a lot about evaluation and ‘social impact analysis’ (see, they even argue about what it should be called). They especially love to argue about the ‘best’ way to do it. Like whether you should or shouldn’t have an external evaluator, or whether you should or shouldn’t do a Randomised Controlled Trial (RCT). Frankly, it can get a bit confusing – so how do you know the best way to ‘do’ an evaluation? Especially if you're working in social innovation. The answer is that there is no ‘best’ way.
How do you make a masterplan for evaluation into a reality? (If you haven’t read the evaluation master plan – you’re missing out - it’s here.)
We’re asking our upcoming Digital Edge project partners to use ‘micro-narrative’ approach to evaluation to understand how their work brings about change (I know – sounds fancy doesn’t it?). In the spirit of openness this blog is partly so that everyone we’re working with can know what all these strange triangles and requests for stories are trying to do. On the other hand, for anyone who is thinking of using storytelling evaluation in their work, this might help you on your journey.
Part of the reason no one’s cracked measuring social value is that it doesn’t exist as an objective ‘thing’. Value is inherently subjective, so it’s no surprise that project leads, partners and funders all fight over particular measures. Really they’re all just fighting over measuring what they think matters the most.
So last week Dan Sutch and I were lucky enough to be invited by the wonderful Giulio Quaggiotto and Denisa Papayova over at the UNDP in Bratislava to give a presentation on technology can support digital inclusion, and particuarly econimic inclusion, for young people. You can see our slides here
Addressing this question first means understanding the changing context of participation in employment. We drew on some research from our recent State of the Art Review on Employment and the Internet to give a sense underlying influences we should be aware of:
We all know capturing social impact is difficult, especially when you’re developing new models and trying new approaches. That’s how we all justify spending so long talking about it ;-)
If you’re working with a consistent cohort of individuals over a significant period of time then you can roll out all the nice traditional pre and post measures to track their progress. But, real life’s not generally like that. If you’re working with hard to reach clients sporadically or intermittently, how do you go about capturing and assessing the impact of the work?
One of the difficult things about working on Skype or Google Hangout is that it strips us of the social cues that normally oil the wheels of good conversation, that little lean forward, opening of the mouth, intake of breath before someone interjects. (If these social cues don't mean anything to you then you are either spending way too much time online, or bereft of social skills. Either way stop reading this and go and talk to someone immediately)
One of the things we've been exploring at Nominet Trust is how do you replicate a natural flow of conversion when working on video conferencing that just isn't subtle enough to pick up on these?
One of the questions that should keep any funder awake at night is: are we doing the best that can be done with the money?
Answering this naturally leads any funder to ask how do we measure our success?
On one level they can obviously reflect on the work of the projects they fund or partner with. After all, a core measure of success is what happens with the money. But in a wider sense, funders work in different ways and so to understand their effectiveness there has to be an understanding of the strengths or weaknesses of their funding model. For example, are they all about supporting the continuation of work by existing organisations? Or are they an early stage investor who tries to get new ideas off the ground? In this case, how do you measure success when you're starting up new projects?