Impact. Resilience. The impact you want to have in the world, as a result of your efforts. The resilience in the ability to respond to internal and external changes, over and over again, sustainably. We all seem to want greater impact resilience, yet most efforts seem to lead to low impact, with most efforts failing to achieve the desired impact, and people being less engaged after the effort than before it. To compensate for the low results and engagement of the efforts, they have high direct costs. Not the benefit-to-cost ratio most of us foresaw when starting the efforts.
Might a measure of impact resilience help, before, during, and after? The current mainstream framing of impact resilience focuses on net profits or funds available from the effort. Essentially, the direct benefits should be greater than the direct costs. Profits = Revenues – Costs. Funds Available = Funds In – Funds Out. This kind of logic leads to the prevailing framing of strategy as the direct interventions that will lead to direct outcomes, often called a “theory of change.” In explorations my colleagues and I have made into the agreements supporting the very high impact resilience of positive deviants we have found around the globe, we find an alternate framing, which seems to lead to much higher impact resilience. We call this alternate framing a “theory of impact resilience,” where the focus is on the ability to engage the potential value present in any group, in a very resilient manner.
The measure of impact resilience, as we are using it today, encompasses:
- impact: what we want to achieve, the potential value available, the costs of scarcity, and the ecosynomic value realized in service of what we want
- resilience: the ability to thrive in change, continuously, over time
We use three specific tools to measure the impact and two to measure the resilience. We assess impact with the tools of (1) deeper shared purpose, (2) reference behavior pattern, and (3) ecosynomic value realized (EVR). We assess resilience with the tools of (1) probability of survival, and (2) the multiples of EVR.
Impact tools. The deeper shared purpose is the reason why the group comes together in the first place and why it needs a specific mix of voices. The process for the “deeper shared purpose” tool is described in the O Process. The reference behavior pattern explores the group’s definition of how the deeper shared purpose is measured, how well the group has done at achieving it historically, the most probable outcomes of the deeper shared purpose going forward, the desired outcomes going forward, and the gap between the most probable and the desired outcomes. The process for the “reference behavior pattern” tool is described in my chapter applying the tool to poverty alleviation. Ecosynomic Value Realized (EVR) is the total value realized minus the costs of the utilized resources minus the costs of scarcity. Said another way, EVR is the total value generated by the recognized resources less the costs of the recognized resources less the costs of the unrecognized resources. The cost of the unrecognized resources is the total potential available in the available resources, as described through the three levels of perceived reality in an agreements evidence map, less the value of the recognized resources. This accounts for the costs of not engaging the potential resources available–the costs of scarcity. The process for the EVR tool is described in the Costs of Scarcity framework. We use the combination of these three tools to determine (1) what we are trying to achieve together–the deeper shared purpose, (2) how we are doing at achieving that impact, and (3) net results in value realized through our efforts.
Resilience tools. The probability of survival is the probability that the group will continue to have sufficient resources to survive in the future. Most initial efforts never even get off the ground, and most efforts that do, die within the first years. This means that the probability of survival for most efforts is very low. Resilience is the ability to increase the probability of survival. The probability of survival is the average of the probability of survival for each of the three levels of perceived reality: the risk of stockout at the outcomes level; the risk of not learning at the development level; and the risk of obsolescence at the potential level. The risk at each level depends on the level of conscious agreements at each level of perceived reality. Where the agreements are conscious, the probability of survival (one minus the risk of not surviving) is much higher than where the agreements are subconscious, unconscious, or non-existent. The multiples of ecosynomic value realized convert the probability of survival into a number of probable years of survival, which when discounted over time suggest a multiple of this year’s ecosynomic value realized (EVR). This multiple times the current EVR suggests a valuation of the current set of agreements of what is valued and engaged, as seen through the agreements evidence map. We use the combination of these two tools to determine (1) the probability of survival of the agreements in place, and (2) a valuation of the probable lifetime of the agreements.
With the measures of impact and resilience, we have a better sense of (1) the current state of the agreements, (2) the benefits of shifting the agreements, and (3) the costs of not. We can also assess how the set of agreements compare to other sets of agreements, indicating both what is possible for groups and where to invest for greater impact resilience. We do this assessment through the five levels of impact resilience.
The five levels of impact resilience range from simply achieving some impact over time to generating great impact resilience by engaging all of the potential value available. The Institute for Strategic Clarity has set up a certification process for each of the five levels of impact resilience. Level 1 Impact Resilience is achieved when a group is able to demonstrate that is has achieved its stated impact over five years. Level 2 is achieved when a group achieves both Level 1 and measures its impact resilience, as described above, independent of whether its EVR is positive or not. Level 3 is achieved when a group achieves Level 2 and its EVR is net positive. Level 4 is achieved when a group achieves Level 2 and its Return on Potential Value (RPV = EVR/Total Potential Value) is greater than 0.3, meaning its conscious agreements are well into the development level of perceived reality. Level 5 is achieved when a group achieves Level 2 and its RPV is greater than 0.6, meaning its conscious agreements are well into the potential level of perceived reality.
Coming back full circle, we find that groups that are able to achieve the higher impact resilience every group imagines, initially–yet few groups actually achieve–score much higher on impact resilience. By examining what differentiates high impact resilience groups from lower impact resilience groups, we have developed the impact resilience measurement system. Groups that want to know where they are in their impact resilience, with the desire to achieve much greater impact resilience, can now assess the specifics of what supports their current levels and what agreements are needed to achieve higher levels of impact resilience. Those groups who are able to demonstrate that they can meet the higher standards of impact resilience can be recognized by impact resilience certification. This provides that group with a cohort of groups at their level of impact resilience, mentors for the next level, and certification for possible investors and donors of the quality of their agreements in achieving higher impact resilience.