3 Keys to Unlocking Impact

Everyone talks about impact.  Social impact.  The impact they have on others.  What is impact, and how does it work?  Impact is the energy received.  “A strong effect on someone.”  In physics, impact is the force that is applied when an object comes into contact with another object.  Impact then is the shift of energy from one object to another.  Impact requires energy coming in, a transformation of that energy, and that energy being released to or received by another (depending on your vantage-point).  Most people seems to minimize their impact–the energy they engage, transform, and transmit to another–by keeping these required energy forms locked away.

When people are disengaged, they do not connect to the energy, the creativity available within themselves.  When our agreements are weak, we transform and scale very little of the creativity and energy engaged.  When we don’t actively know or engage the people we intend to impact, we transfer very little of the energy that we transformed.  Along the way, of all the energy and creativity that was available, little was engaged, less was transformed, and even less was transferred.  Not very efficient or effective.  Why do we do this?  Is it hard to do otherwise, to engage, transform, and transfer high energy?

3 keys can unlock this energy.  Over the past two dozen years, my colleagues and our networks of colleagues around the globe have found very straightforward, intuitively-obvious and seldom-used-in-coherent-ways tools for unlocking this energy for far greater impact.  We have found it in groups around the world, and we have learned how to see it, understand it, and develop it.  We found that the doors–the floodgates for this energy flow–have specific keyholes, requiring specific keys.  That’s part of the problem–the wrong key cannot open the door.  And, the doors all need to be opened together, with the right keys.  What are the 3 keys?  One key for unlocking the energy of engagement.  A second key for unlocking the energy of transformation.  A third key for unlocking the door to the energy of transfer, of impact.

1 — Key to Energy of Engagement.  This key has three prongs.  A prong of purpose.  A prong of unique contribution.  A prong of trust.  This key is the quest, “To what purpose do we invite your specific contribution, in a vibrant space of trust?

2  — Key to Energy of Transformation.  This key has three prongs.  A prong of tangibilization.  A prong of leverage.  A prong of resilience.  This key faces the inquiry of, “How do we integrate and leverage this energy engaged efficiently with resilience into impactful products and services, into relevant forms of energy?

3 — Key to Energy of Transfer.  This key has three prongs.  A prong of acceptance.  A prong of intention.  A prong of inclusion.  This key addresses the exploration, “Do the intended recipients want this transformed energy, and can they receive it?

Imagine the impact when not unlocked.  When these 3 doors–to energy engaged, transformed, and transferred–remain closed.  Not engaged, not transformed, not wanted or received.  You have probably experienced many situations like this, or at least on this end of the continuum.

In combination, these 3 keys unlock far greater impact, engaging and transforming purposeful energy that others want and are ready to receive.  Those who are engaging, transforming, and receiving the energy resonate with it.

Where have we seen this work?  The people of Vermont have taken on a radical shift, from complete dependence on external sources of energy for electricity, heating, and transportation to complete autonomy in their energy future.  Through a state-wide process over the past 10 years, people from many different vantage points (utilities, businesses, local and national government, communities, networks) have come together, each bringing their unique gifts to shift their whole energy system.  You can see what is happening in this work in Vermont by clicking here.  The people of THORLO work towards the preventive foot health of everyone, bringing more life to your everyday interactions.  Through decades of work on their culture, structures, and processes, they have found ways of interacting with each other and with their communities to bring greater creativity and vitality to everything they do.  You can see them tell their story by clicking here.  In New England town meetings, the people of each town meet annually to discuss and decide on their budget, together.  Their local governance structures bring the information needed to decide,  the people are informed, and come together to decide.  This model has existed for centuries.  You can see more about town meetings, as they are evolving and still practiced through New England, by clicking here.  Three examples, from civil society, business, and government, of how people use all 3 keys simultaneously to unlock the purposeful energy of impact.

While few people see and use these 3 keys, everyone has them.  They are right there, and there are many examples, in all walks of life, of how to use them, and how to measure them.  You have them.  You can use them, if you so choose.

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The Danger in Your Objective Function, Missing Your Deeper Shared Purpose

You want your efforts to have an impact.  To increase your impact, you engage others in generating that impact with you.  While it takes a lot of work, that is your objective, why you do what you do.  Your ability to generate that impact, with others, is a function of your inputs and what you do with those inputs.  In technical terms, this is your objective function.

What if you actually achieved your objective function, in ways that you did not control, could not influence, or did not understand?  To avoid this unintended consequence, let’s understand what an objective function is and how to work with it.

With an objective function, you are trying to optimize the mix of benefits and costs.  Either maximizing the net benefit or minimize the net cost.  You are trying to optimize a set of things that vary, called variables.  UC Berkeley professor of computer science Stuart Russell warns us to be very careful with this kind of approach.  While Stuart is talking specifically about artificial intelligence, the advice applies to complex social systems as well.  If you give the system a goal, and you do not know what the system is doing, you might very well achieve the goal, but at what cost.  You might maximize impact, today, and ruin all relationships along the way, or miss the opportunity to receive a sustaining gift.  Since some variables were outside of the set you designed, and you gave clear mandates to achieve the objective, the system did achieve it, oblivious to the other variables, which could have changed how you would have optimized your impact.

My colleagues at Vibrancy and at the Institute for Strategic Clarity find that there are usually three dangers in your objective function:

  1. unspecified objective — you do not know what you want to achieve
  2. misspecified objective — you do not actually want what you state you want
  3. underspecified objective function — you do not know how to get what you want

What You Want. You can know that you have a passion, and that you want to have an impact.  This can lead you to a general goal of something you would like to achieve.  Do you want to help others?  Make money?  Teach kids.  Unfortunately, this very open statement of a general goal does not guide you to what you need to do to have an impact that is meaningful to you.  And, a general goal like this makes it very hard for others to focus their efforts with you in achieving it. To know what you want to achieve, either individually or as a group, you simply need to ask.  What is it I really want?  If I actually achieve it, will I be satisfied?  It will take lots of effort.  Will it be worth it?  It is a simple question, one many people have not really asked.  It is the first step to getting what you want.

What You Really Want. You might be working hard at achieving an objective.  It might even be a clear and obvious objective.  The question is whether that is what you really want.  If you do not know what you really want to achieve, achieving something less or different probably will not satisfy you, and you will have spent a lot of effort to get there. To achieve what you really want to achieve, you have to be clear and specific.  Following the work of our colleague Ralph Keeney‘s value-focused thinking, we use the 3 whys to structure your fundamental objective.  What do you think you want to achieve?  Why do you want that?  And, why do you want that?  And, finally, why do you want that?  This leads to the higher purpose, or deeper values, actually guiding the impact you want to have.  With this higher purpose, you have defined a boundary around the factors that need to be addressed to achieve your desired impact.  Knowing what you really want to achieve, either individually or as a group is easy to do.  For us, it usually takes less than an hour of real inquiry.

What Drives What You Really Want.  While you might know what you want, clear and specific, if you do not know how to achieve it, you are sub-optimizing your efforts, at best.  Now you need to know how to achieve it.  The “how” might be clear to someone, because others have achieved it (like how to prepare to run a mile), or it might be something nobody has done before (like ending poverty).  In either case, the “how” is a hypothesis, and you can increase your odds of learning how to achieve it by setting the intention, engaging people who understand key elements, working collaboratively towards the objective, and adjusting along the way, as you learn from the feedback the world gives you.

What Your Objective Function Does.  Once you know the why, the what, and the how, the objective function begins to work throughout your organization.  People are making decisions all day long, most of which you are unaware of and do not involve you.  You cannot control your way through that, though many leaders try.  There are too many decisions constantly being made.  This is a danger of an objective function.  You do not know how it is actually being operationalized.  So, you can either try to control it, which does not work as there are too many decisions being made.  You can just hope for the best, which also does not work as it gives no direction or feedback. Or, you can collaboratively engage the people who are making the decisions, constantly informing each other about the decisions being made and the lessons being learned.  That has proven to work.

You Can Choose the Agreements.  You can see your objective function as a set of agreements, with lots of people acting on those agreements.  You can assume that you and everyone else know what those agreements are, that the agreements are the right ones, that the agreements are working to achieve the desired impact, and that no lessons are being learned, so there is no need for adjustments.  That does not work well, most of the time.  You can also assume that it is important to be clear on the deeper intention, and that it is important that everyone else shares that deeper intention.  You can also assume that the agreements need to be surfaced and worked with, on a regular basis, to see if they work well, if they actually do what you think they do, and how to adjust them as the context changes.  This is a leadership system based on shared awareness, attention, and feedback amongst the people cohosting the purpose, the objective function.  This is what Stuart Russell suggested.  It is better to know what is happening and adjust.

Impact Resilience with Network Power

“Complex systems have somehow acquired the ability to bring order and chaos into a special kind of balance. This balance point–often called the edge of chaos–is where the components of a system never quite lock into place, and yet never quite dissolve into turbulence, either. The edge of chaos is where life has enough stability to sustain itself and enough creativity to deserve the name of life,” according to author Mitchell Waldrop in Complexity: The Emerging Science at the Edge of Order and Chaos.  What does this mean for social systems, systems of human beings?

As the most complex system that sustains us as human beings, life’s stability is found at the interface of outcomes and development, of the already-finished state of nouns that are balanced by the becoming state of verbs.  Life’s creativity is found at the interface of development and potential, of the becoming state of verbs and the possibility state of light energy.  Finding this interface, where life is creative and manifests, evolving as some innovations work better in the ever-changing environment, is the power of healthy networks.  Embedding a process of evolutionary discovery and alignment with a deeper shared purpose scales network power into tangibilization power, where deep collaboration brings orders of magnitude greater impact and resilience.

The Ooos of Impact

Impact is the energy transferred, from one thing to another.  You can look at impact in three ways.  The 3 “O’s” of impact.  Outputs, outcomes, and opportunities.

Outputs. If you focus only on the noun level of agreements, in ecosynomic terms, you can only see your outputs.  You are only focused on the specific outputs, the observable nouns, of the resources in your immediate environment.  You might be able to make assumptions about the impact of your outputs, but you cannot see the impacts, because that would require seeing over space in your relationships with others and over choices made in time.  These over-space-time capacities are not allowed in noun-only thinking.  The math of noun-only thinking integrated out movement over space and time to see how much noun is available.  You can see your outputs, as you react to what is happening.  You have some impact (X).

Outcomes.  If you focus on the verb and noun levels of agreements, in ecosynomic terms, you can see the outcomes of your activities, as they impact others over time.  At this level, you can see the  outputs, the activities, and the outcomes–a much richer picture than just the outputs.  You can learn from your outcomes, improving your activities to get better outcomes.  You can multiply your impact (nX).

Opportunities.  If you focus on the light, verb, and noun levels of agreements, in ecosynomic terms, you can see the opportunities, in what is being learned from previous activities and from the new possibilities emerging.  The intersection of what was learned from the outcomes of past activities and the emerging possibilities is where you find opportunities, potentials that you can experiment with, finding pathways of relationships with which to manifest the potentials.  At this level, you can see the outputs, the activities, the outcomes, the lessons learned, the emerging potentials, and the opportunities to manifest them.  You can evolve your learning and your activities, asking new questions, scaling the impact you can have (X^n).

When you look at impact, you can choose to look at outputs, outcomes, or opportunities.  You can have an impact, multiply your impact, or scale your impact.  What is the return on your impact investment?  Is the investment for opportunities much greater than for outcomes or outputs?  Which is more efficient, more effective?  It is a choice, a choice that depends on your agreements.

A hat tip to HA for the distinction of outcomes and outputs.

Who Controls Your Impact?

The impact of your efforts is the amount of energy transferred, from the force generated by your efforts, to something or someone else.  There are five elements in your impact.  They each influence your efforts and subsequent impact.  The question is, who is controlling these elements?  You?  Consciously? Unconsciously? Someone else?  Consciously?  Unconsciously?

The five elements are:

  1. the purpose that determines the direction and magnitude of your efforts
    • why you are doing it and the intensity with which you do it
    • Is it your purpose, that you arrived at consciously, or a purpose that you accepted unconsciously?
  2. the framing of the efforts
    • your understanding of what to do, towards that purpose
    • Is it an understanding that you have developed and tested for yourself, or a “should” that someone else placed on you?
  3. what moves you
    • your feelings about your purpose and efforts
    • Do your feelings reflect your experience of the alignment of your purpose and your efforts, or are your feelings fed by someone else’s fuel, something they persuaded you to do?
  4. outputs of your efforts
    • choices made about what specific efforts to take
    • Are you choosing your efforts consciously, or are your actions guided by someone else?
  5. outcomes
    • the results, in the past, of your efforts
    • Are you choosing how you assess the outcomes of your efforts, or are you accepting someone else’s definition of successful outcomes?

I observe three ways that people engage these five elements of impact.

  1. Most of the Time” Impact
    • Most of the time, most of us human beings seem to be accepting someone else’s definitions of all five elements–someone else is completely in control of our impact.
  2. “Some of the Time” Impact
    • Some of the time, some of us seem to be in control of some of these elements–the rest of the elements are either under the control of our own subconscious or someone else.
  3. Choice” Impact
    • Every now and then, someone shows us how to integrate all five elements, at the same time, into one choice, a choice to completely control their impact.  They choose their purpose, their understanding of how to frame their efforts towards their purpose.  They experience whether there is alignment between their purpose, their experience, and the outcomes they achieve.  They adjust the choices they make about their efforts, along the way, learning from what increases impact in any given context. And, they choose how to define success, determining how they assess what actually happened from their efforts.

It seems that we Homo lumens are designed to be able to choose the outcomes, experience, interactions, and agreements we want.  Most of us do not, most of the time, letting someone else choose for us.  And, we are completely capable of making that choice, to control our impact–the energy we transfer to another through our efforts–for ourselves and by ourselves.  It is a choice.

 

 

3 Ways to More Yes!

Yes!  A powerful word.  It invites, it engages, it moves.  And, with relatively the same amount of effort, there are 3 completely different outcomes available to us, based on the agreements we choose.  We can add another Yes!, we can multiple by Yeses!, or we can scale to Yeses!  The co-investment and risk are about the same, and the reward or return can be much greater.

If we see the world as nouns, as already finished, we see outcomes.  We use resource power.  We add Yeses. With a strong Yes, an 8 on a scale of 1 to 10, we add another Yes!, and we have the resource strength of 16 (8 + 8).  That is twice as much as we started with, a good return.

If we see the world as verbs and nouns, we see development and outcomes.  We use network power.  We multiply Yeses.  With the same strong Yes (8), we multiply times 8, getting 7 other 8s to join us, achieving a network strength of 64 (8 * 8).  That is 8 times as much as we started with, an even better return.

If we see the world as light and verbs and nouns, we see potential, development, and outcomes.  We use tangibilization power. We raise Yes to the power of Yes.  With the same strong Yes (8), we raise it to the power of 8, multiplying 8 by a factor of 8, scaling to 16,777,216 (8^8).  That is much, much more than we started with, taking advantage of reinforcing dynamics.

Another way to look at this in how many people we can serve with our efforts.  If you serve eight with your capacities, and I serve eight with my capacities, together we can serve 16 [8+8].  We add our efforts, transaction completed.  If we combine your capacities and networks with my capacities and networks, we can serve 64 [8*8].  We multiply our efforts and develop relationships and capacities.  If we unite our unique contributions, in service of a deeper shared purpose, we can invite, engage, and cohost service to 16,777,216 (8^8).  We engage a purpose and evolve how we manifest it.

We can either add, multiply, or scale our Yes.  It is a choice.

Do you have examples from your life?

e3 (eCubed) = Everyone Everywhere Everyday

Almost every form of wellbeing measured today finds success for some people in some places some of the time.  Income, happiness, health.  Some have it, some of the time, and most do not, most of the time.

In all of our work in the past ten years, my colleagues and I hear over and over again the desire to shift the experience and outcomes in systems for everyone everywhere everyday, throughout whatever system it is.  The energy sovereignty of Vermont, a cancer-free economy in the USA, retrofitting the building stock of Europe, healthy communities in Mexico, generative building in South Africa.  We start with the knowing that we have to figure out how to achieve resilient impact for everyone everywhere in the system everyday.  And, we usually end up settling for most people in most places in the system most of the time.
While mostly successful in these earlier efforts, it is time we take on the bigger challenges of reaching everyone everywhere everyday, where E * E * E = 1.0.  It is time.  This means that to reach 100% overall, we have to reach 100% resilient impact, which requires that we reach everyone (E1 = 100%) everywhere (E2 = 100%) everyday (E3 = 100%).  E^3 or eCubed = 100% = 1.0.
To reach E^3 = 1.0, we have to evolve in our practice and in our understanding of the human being.  We have to learn what works and what does not.  We have to inquire into what it is, what causes it, and what its consequences are.
  • Desired consequences. What are the impacts we desire?  To determine this, we already have tools to explore the impact we want to have and how to achieve resilience in that impact. We can start with: (1) impact resilience measurement; and (2) the Vibrancy Move Process, which uses the reference behavior pattern and O Process tools to determine the gap between what we know is available and what we are currently experiencing.
  • Specification. What is E^3?  How is it different from the current solutions that satisfy many people in many places much of the time?  What does this expanded specification require us to understand?  We already have examples around the globe of people who are beginning to figure out E^3=1.0 solutions.  We are also learning how to learn from their abundance-based solutions.
  • Antecedents. What are the drivers of E^3=1.0?  We have some insights into the differences in agreements fields between solutions that work for some, those that work for many, and those that work for everyone.  Agreements Fields Mapping (pactoecography) helps us describe and understand what resilient impacts we want as humanity, why we want them for everyone everywhere everyday, and how to find the groups that are beginning to figure out the how, how to learn from and with them, and how to see what is next, to achieve E^3 = 1.0.

Figuring this out requires a movement, a global effort to understand how to reach globally local solutions that work for everyone everywhere everyday.  The next frontier. Several efforts are being made with different expressions, from isolated efforts to flocking networks.  Our own efforts in this emerging movement are supported by the Global Pactoecographic Covenant through the Global Initiative to Map Ecosynomic Deviance and Impact Resilience.  As humanity we have the resources, the tools, the knowhow to make the shift, from E^3<<1.0 to E^3=1.0.  We owe it to ourselves and to the resilience of our future.  We owe it to you, and we need you to engage, to bring what you see and what you learn about how to achieve resilient impacts for everyone, everywhere, everyday.  Join our covenant to serve this purpose, to make eCubed = 100%.

Scaling Impact — What We Are Learning from BUILD UPON Cambridge, Madrid, and Brussels

In this 4th of a series of 4 blogposts, we share what we are learning, as co-investors with BUILD UPON and the European Climate Foundation, about: (1) co-hosting collaboration; (2) realizing the deeper shared purpose; (3) measuring impact resilience; and (4) scaling impact.

SCALING IMPACT

In BUILD UPON, we are working regionally, as Europe, across 28 member states, and within each member state.  We have spent the last two years working with thousands of stakeholder groups who influence the building renovation, renewable energy, and energy efficiency industries, across geographic, economic, political, cultural, and social diversities.  To scale the impact of all of this local, national, and regional work, we saw that six steps were necessary.  

“What it means to renovate the entire building stock. It means comfort.  It means better housing, more energy security. It means engagement.  We need to get industry stakeholders, policy makers, finance, all together, and that needs to be sustained over time.”

Celine Carre, Saint-Gobain

First, we need to identify the one, unifying deeper shared purpose that would bring us together to collaborate across all of these diversities.  We achieved a next step towards this with our Common Vision, developed with 100+ stakeholder representatives in Madrid, described in the earlier blogpost “Realizing the Deeper Shared Purpose.”

BUILD UPON social network analysis, EU member states

Second, we need to gather the people together, around this deeper shared purpose.  People who are committed to shifting the economic, environmental, health, and social impacts of energy and buildings in Europe.  We have a critical mass of those people engaged in BUILD UPON, ready to move forward together.

Third, thousands of positive deviants are figuring out many of the parts of this, within their own specific cultures.  We need to identify them, study them, and showcase them, so that others at the local, national, and regional levels can learn from and with them about their technical and social innovations.

Fourth, we need to gather with each other and learn from each other, taking advantage of the many platforms for learning with and from each other that already exist, are gaining broad support, and are evolving and maturing.

Fifth, we are now clear that through collaboration, we can achieve far more together than we can alone or through simple cooperation—more, in the same places, at the same time, regionally, nationally, and locally.

Sixth, we have already begun to experience the very tangible impacts and greater resilience of co-hosting this collaboration together.

So, now we are focusing simultaneously on regional, national, and local-level efforts, highlighting what we are learning about (1) our best efforts everywhere, (2) local positive deviants, (3) how to share insights across professional, industrial, geographic, and linguistic cultures, and (4) coming across with a simple and effective measurement system that allows us to focus on the impacts we want to generate and to track the collective effort at the same time we capture feedback to improve local and national initiatives.  We have to, because we agree that it is important to achieve our social impacts, and to achieve them we see clearly that we must collaborate.

We thank our colleagues at the European Climate Foundation (ECF), the BUILD UPON team, the co-hosts (link to previous blog in series on “co-hosting collaboration), the Madrid participants, the Institute for Strategic Clarity, and Vibrancy—all co-investors in this process together.

Measuring Impact Resilience — What We Are Learning from BUILD UPON Cambridge, Madrid, and Brussels

In this 3rd of a series of 4 blogposts, we share what we are learning, as co-investors with BUILD UPON and the European Climate Foundation, about: (1) co-hosting collaboration; (2) realizing the deeper shared purpose; (3) measuring impact resilience; and (4) scaling impact.

MEASURING IMPACT RESILIENCE

The potential we see.  With a shared deeper purpose that brings many diverse stakeholders together, across many countries and industries, the BUILD UPON effort is now ready to ground this abstract purpose, making it a daily reality for all of these stakeholders, showing how they can work together, from their own worlds, in achieving something bigger, locally, nationally, and regionally.  Measurement can support that grounding process, by clarifying:

  1. what we mean by our shared purpose, in very specific terms
  2. how we plan to achieve our purpose, with the unique contribution of each of our efforts
  3. how we can identify and highlight what we are each learning in the development of technical and social innovations

In many organizations, we measure because we are expected to measure, and we manage to the measures.  The reason to measure and manage to the measures is given, by someone else.  While the apparent simplicity of some measures might make them seem straightforward, they rarely are.  For example, profits are revenues minus costs.  For more profits, increase the revenues and decrease the costs.  Simple, until the methods for increasing revenues increase costs faster, or the ways to decrease costs also decrease revenues, such as lower product or service quality.  Or, to decrease the environmental impact of buildings, increase the number of renovated buildings, by increasing demand.  You can do this by making people do it through regulations or by making it cheaper to do through subsidies.  Simple, until the regulations make the technologies much more expensive or the subsidies outpace the supply.

From an impact resilience perspective, we are looking for a more systemic understanding that integrates the multiple stakeholder perspectives on the impacts we are trying to achieve.  With this integrated perspective, we can measure a systemic set of indicators that let us know how resilient we are in achieving our systemic set of impacts.  

To compensate for a lack of clarity of what we are trying to achieve amongst many stakeholder perspectives, we tend to believe that lots of measurement — lots of variable and lots of data — shows that we are very serious.  We measure dozens to hundreds of key performance indicators (KPIs).  To measure lots of variables, we tend to focus on easier to measure variables that are often means to an unspecified, higher-order purpose of the whole effort.  We also leave measures of creativity and collaboration out of the equation, since they seem hard to measure, yet they are critical to the generative processes of creative collaboration.

In the development of a scorecard for impact resilience, we look for a small set of measures that cover the higher-order impacts we want, the strategic areas we want to impact, and the processes that leverage our impact.  While this small set of 10-15 measures can be supported by more detailed reports, specifying how they were achieved in more detail, we want to focus on the most strategic variables and our narrative—our theory of impact resilience—of how they all fit together.  We want to use proxies that directly let us know how we are doing on the strategic variables.  In the impact resilience scorecard, we attempt to do this.

“Committing to measuring process, strategic, social impacts on local, national, international levels would allow the stakeholders joining multilevel collaborative platforms to see the whole and the meaning of their (and others) contribution, but also to improve the way those platforms can work together and, so, achieve greater impact. Sharing simple, meaningful proxies, would allow necessary flexibility, and to get a clear sense of the final purposes all over a complex group of groups. Moreover, and crucially, learnings from best practices could grow geometrically with the network’s dimensions, increasing the ability to be effective, and resilient over time.”

— Sebastiano Cristoforetti, International and Certification Manager, GBC Italia

What we might do.  To assess social, strategic, and process impacts across Europe, at the local, national, and regional levels simultaneously, we can develop a coherent set of a few measures that we can track to identify the common impacts and the specific innovations happening at each level.  As we saw in an earlier blog in this series [link to blogpost “Realizing the Deeper Shared Purpose,”] we developed a draft “Common Vision” with a wide-ranging group of stakeholders across the energy efficiency, renewable energies, and building renovation communities.  The following systems map captures the key elements of that Common Vision, showing how they all fit together (see the blogpost “Realizing the Deeper Shared Purpose” for a description of the systems map).

As these collaborative-process efforts drive the strategic areas and subsequently the social impacts, the growing demand and supply for renovation drives a scaling factor that accelerates social and technical innovation.  Having the clarity of the purpose we share and the dynamics of our system, we can focus the measurement scorecard on the critical variables that express the impacts we want to achieve together.

To measure these social, strategic, and process impacts, we can simplify the work of BUILD UPON into 12 high-level metrics, which can then be supported with detailed metrics, showing systemically how they influence each of the high-level impacts.

The metrics in an Impact Resilience Scorecard, exemplified in the figure above, highlight the social, strategic, and process impacts of a system that leads to greater resilience of the renovation system, at the local, member state, and European levels.  Proxies for each impact measure are provided, which could also include current levels and agreed-upon target levels.

After being exposed to this systemic and high-impact approach to measuring individual and collective success, the participants were asked to reflect on, “What would I need to know and share to fully step up and invest in the future we started to see together?”  The participants shared the need for more knowledge on positively deviating behavior of other members, to be able to increase their own success. Furthermore, they highlighted the importance of continuing the conversation on a strategic level to support their ability to increase their impact and strengthen their resilience. See movie footage here of what they shared.

What could happen.  Much greater collaboration is possible, and it means that the many stakeholders involved in energy efficiency, renewable energies, and building renovation have to see the value in it.  It has to become more than a nice exercise; it has to be interwoven into their ability to succeed individually and together. Collaborative impact is a simple choice, not a complicated option.  A choice we can make every day.  Like the groups we are finding around the world, members of BUILD UPON too can choose their experience and the outcomes they  achieve.

We thank our colleagues at the European Climate Foundation (ECF), the BUILD UPON team, the World Green Building Council, the co-hosts, the Madrid and Brussels participants, the Institute for Strategic Clarity, and Vibrancy—all co-investors in this process together.

Realizing the Deeper Shared Purpose — What We Are Learning from BUILD UPON Cambridge, Madrid, and Brussels

In this 2nd of a series of 4 blogposts, we share what we are learning, as co-investors with BUILD UPON and the European Climate Foundation, about: (1) co-hosting collaboration; (2) realizing the deeper shared purpose; (3) measuring impact resilience; and (4) scaling impact.

REALIZING THE DEEPER SHARED PURPOSE

The potential we saw. To achieve its goal of “cutting Europe’s energy use, reducing the impacts of climate change, and creating buildings that deliver a high quality of life for everyone,” BUILD UPON believes that, “changing the way we work together will lead to strong, well implemented renovation strategies over time. Success is therefore about establishing and maintaining innovative platforms for cross-sector collaboration and partnership.  Europe’s renovation revolution can only be achieved if governments, businesses, NGOs and householders come together: individually, our resources are insufficient to meet this challenge, but collectively we can achieve the impact needed to make our buildings the best they can be.”

“The process gave me the tools to progress in a direction that I intuitively felt was needed to build widespread support beyond the energy efficiency community. We need to engage with stakeholders that don’t yet see a direct benefit to their respective causes or objectives. This will happen most effectively by finding common ground, which starts with understanding their values and perspectives. We have seen good examples of such leadership in the campaigns and coalitions we have been supporting, demonstrating that successful engagement and alignment with a wide variety of stakeholders increases the overall impact of our advocacy efforts.”

— Patty Fong, Programme Director of the Energy Efficiency Programme, European Climate Foundation

To collaborate at this level, the BUILD UPON leadership believed it was critical to invite in a broad set of stakeholders, representing many different facets of the built environment and energy systems across Europe to see what the deeper shared purpose that could unite them might be.  To facilitate this broad set of stakeholders, 32 leaders from the BUILD UPON and European Climate Foundation communities went through a advanced leadership capacity-building process  together 3 weeks before, in Cambridge UK (link to previous blogpost in this series), to build capacity in how to co-host collaboration.

What we did.  At the BUILD UPON Madrid Leaders Summit, the co-hosts, two to a table, co-hosted ten other leaders representing other stakeholder perspectives throughout the energy efficiency, renewable energy, and building renovation communities across Europe.  The co-hosted conversation inquired into the deeper purpose they all shared that brought them together.  This far-ranging conversation covered very different topics at each table, depending on the stakeholder perspectives at that table, and they all converged on the importance of a set of four social impacts they all shared (increasing economic development, decreasing the environmental and health impacts of energy and buildings, and increasing affordable housing), supported by a coherent set of strategic impacts in regulations, financial risk sharing, social capital, and technical innovation.

“Stakeholders are important for the process, but if they are not involved and do not feel that they are taking part in the process, they will not grasp the importance of their role and their added value. This is what co-hosting brings to the table: a chance for everyone to be involved and take part in the process of exchanging ideas and thoughts.  No matter which function someone held (minister or junior project manager), people took the time to listen to each other (with the help of co-hosts).”

— Alan Perl, BUILD UPON Project Manager, Croatia GBC

A table conversation in the BUILD UPON Madrid Leaders Summit

What came out of that process.  Out of that process in Madrid, we synthesized the input from the 16 tables, including 150 stakeholder perspectives, into one “Common Vision” statement.   

The following systems map captures the core elements of this synthesized statement and how the elements fit together as a coherent set.

How to read the systems map.  In essence, the variables in green represent the social impacts that the group of many stakeholders identified in their deeper shared purpose, through the co-hosted session in Madrid.  To be determined a success, the work must have an economic impact of generating more projects for companies and more jobs for individuals.  It also must lead to an environmental impact of dramatically lowering greenhouse gas emissions.  And it must have a positive impact on the health of its citizens and make housing more affordable.  All four social impacts must be achieved.

The variables in black represent the strategic impacts of the BUILD UPON work, all of which are needed together to renovate the building stock, in a way that generates the four required social impacts.  The economic impact depends on the activity of renovating buildings.  The environmental and health impacts depend on the resulting stock of renovated buildings. As described by the groups in Madrid, the activity of renovating buildings depends on supply and demand.  Increasing supply strategically is primarily a function of lowering financial risk and increasing demand, the combination of which will lead to more companies providing renovation services and building sufficient capacity to meet any demand.  Decreasing financial risk depends on sharing risk across multiple stakeholders, not just the investors, and on stabilizing demand by generating regulations that require renovation.  Both of these factors are strengthened by the generation of policies and regulations requiring renovation. Increasing demand strategically requires the people knowing that they have to renovate because of regulations requiring renovation, that people see that everyone else they know is renovating–it becomes a social norm–, it make more sense to renovate because technical innovation provides cheaper, smarter solutions, and because renovation is a good thing to do, since evidence shows the proven social benefits of renovation.

The variables in blue represent the process impacts that leverage each local renovation effort across member states and across Europe by working on (1) cross-sector, cross-member state collaboration, (2) showcasing the thousands of cases of positive deviants in technical and social innovations they find locally, (3) the creation of a clear, generalizable and at the same time specific message of how renovation is becoming a social norm, and (4) the creation of a social-engagement movement that supports the deeper shared purpose.

“While applying the ‘O Process’ methodology, we enhanced our collective capacity to read and approach systems, as such, to support the systemic change projects that we deem essential to ignite a renovation revolution. Energy efficiency, though, is a means to an end. Better, to a set of interconnected ends. Systemic change affects where a system goes, what it does, who influence it and, crucially, how it works. With respect to this, we learned to outline shared purposes (Why), to identify together possibilities and probabilities (at an early stage, What), and to upgrade effectiveness through collaboration (How). The corresponding distinctions and relationships between social, strategic and process goals and metrics become clearer, thanks to the overall process we’ve been experiencing, led by the ISC team.

The systemic nature of the challenges we’re facing requires us all to establish collaborative multi-sectoral platforms on local, national and international levels, consistent with the very nature of the Green Building Councils and of their networks. Moreover, those platforms should be connected towards a collective effort, local to national and national to international. That appears to be the biggest process innovation, broadly considering many diverse countries.”

— Sebastiano Cristoforetti, International and Certification Manager, GBC Italia

What we came to call the “Common Vision,” while still in process, now integrates in one shared, deeper purpose, many different stakeholders, who have come together to achieve a coherent set of social impacts, through a process in the built environment, that meets many strategic impacts.  This depth and breadth was achieved in one morning, because of the skill and process of co-hosting collaboration.

We tend to believe that if we are in the same space or work together, we are collaborating–the assumption that networks equal collaboration is not true.

We thank our colleagues at the European Climate Foundation (ECF), the BUILD UPON team, the co-hosts (link to previous blog in series on “co-hosting collaboration), the Madrid participants, the Institute for Strategic Clarity, and Vibrancy—all co-investors in this process together.