“Now that I have this knowledge, these resources, what can I do?”– Reid Hoffman
Shaping your organisation to be the best it can be and engaging with partners who share values and impact objectives with you to further your impact is only the beginning of the journey towards maximising impact.
The Direct Impact Group is constantly assessing new developments that are impacting on the capacity to improve social impact. Whether it is changes in funding, technology or programme design and implementation, we are your eyes and ears to what is developing, is it working and how can it be deployed.
With an agile approach to change, you will be able to assess new opportunities as they develop, rather than wondering how you fit them into fixed, inflexible programme plans.
Combine this with our in-depth understanding of your organisation, built through our facilitative and staged approach to maximising your impact, together we can identify what will work best for your organisation and develop the approach that will take your impact to the next level and beyond. We do this through:
The funding landscape for organisations focused on purpose is changing constantly. What worked in the past is now costing more for less return. New models are complex, focused on different outcomes and often require scale beyond most individual projects and many organisations.
Understanding what is available, from where and what it means for your organisation is difficult to deliver internally with a team used to traditional funding models. Most organisations simply don’t have the capacity to free people up to look at options and think outside of the square. These limitations are compounded by an often limited network outside of traditional organisational relationships.
The Direct Impact Group can help you navigate this ever changing environment and identify new funding opportunities that can build sustainability and maximise impact.
Change can seem risky and hard, and the fear of making the wrong decision is understandable when it affects the ability to deliver impact. Too often opportunity can be hidden behind doubts, a lack of resources and uncertainty.
The Direct Impact Group can work alongside you to not only identify opportunities, but to assess them for the unique needs of your organisation. Our approach to this will not only provide you with an independent assessment of what will work for you, but also build the capacity in your team to identify and assess opportunities in the future. While independent input is invaluable, having the ability within your team means you can be more agile and responsive to change into the future.
Funding agreement facilitation and design
Having identified and assessed a new funding model, negotiating the terms and detail of an agreement that is equitable to all parties is the next daunting challenge. Managing this work in-house can often lead to missed opportunities, power imbalances and even the loss of the funding opportunity before the project has even started. This is not a weakness in an organisation, but rather an outcome of capabilities correctly focused on other areas of project delivery.
The Direct Impact Group can act as a facilitator between parties to an agreement to ensure equitable outcomes and a focus on the shared objectives. Our experience and understanding of both traditional and new funding models enables us to fill in any gaps in knowledge and ensure your interests are protected, whether you are funder or recipient.
Any organisation is only as good as the resources it has available and how well these are deployed. These resources include the people, finances, systems and processes within your organisation or partnership.
Our reviews identify how to focus these resources where they can add the most impact, however, this is not a one off thing and requires an ongoing focus on the effectiveness of resource allocation to ensure they are mobilised in a way that will maximise impact.
Culture change and development
Knowing culture needs to change, and realising the change can seem a long way apart. Understanding how changes and disruptions affect culture can make maintaining culture difficult. Achieving these, while being focused on delivering the day to day operations of an organisation is often seemingly impossible.
The Direct Impact Group works with you to design the change programme and measure its effectiveness on an ongoing basis. As a trusted advisor that knows your organisation’s objectives, needs and capacity we can ensure that the change process is tailored to your needs.
Ongoing, independent measurement of culture change ensures that momentum is maintained, roadblocks identified and managed and a consistent understanding of what is happening is maintained across the organisation or partnership. Internal barriers that may affect buy-in or adherence can be identified and challenged in a less threatening way than if an internal ‘heavy hand’ is pushing the change, enabling the team to build trust and confidence in one another as partners in change rather than doers and receivers.
Resource allocation for maximum effectiveness
How resources are allocated in organisations and partnerships very often determines impact. Knowing where and what change will increase impact is hard to see when you are in the middle of delivery and attached to the people and work.
The Direct Impact Group can assess the impact of current resources based on how they are allocated, identify what is working and what is holding back impact and how resources can be allocated to maximise impact.
This process applies to all resources deployed by your organisation or partnership, whether they are human, financial, process or tool based. Often maximising impact requires a strong interplay between all of these.
Our approach is focused on measuring the impact of existing activity and approaches and identifying how changes can increase performance. By taking a ‘system view’ rather than a ‘component view’ we can identify the interaction between different areas of the organisation and how these effect impact. This enables us to identify where change will make the most difference and minimises the risk of unintended consequences significantly.
Rather than assuming costs are too high, or that systems are inefficient, let us identify where change will matter and create a pathway to maximum impact.
Nothing is changing in the word faster than technology. Keeping up with the latest while managing the current is an endlessly challenging reality of the modern organisation. Maintaining focus on objectives without being distracted by the possibilities of new technology is an everyday reality. Knowing what can increase impact and what is just a bright and shiny distraction requires resources most organisations can ill afford to take away from stretched implementation teams, but the idea that the stretch might be reduced by new technology is continually attractive.
Too often we see organisations looking for a home for technology rather than identifying where technology might be an answer to a pressing problem. Rather than being technology as a solution, it is viewed by many as a driver of organisational change. This can result in diminished focus on the objectives sought and the impact they have.
The Direct Impact Group will work with you to identify how technology can be part of the solution to your most pressing, and impact affecting problems by working from a problem first base to identifying the right solution.
Needs and risk analysis
Understanding the problems that are looking for a solution is the most important step in deploying technology. Our ‘system view’ approach enables us to work with you to identify where change is most needed, and what the risks associated with change in any particular area might mean for the system as a whole.
Once the issues are identified, and the current processes are understood, we will have a clear picture of the problem or problems we need to solve together and how they interplay with other areas. This enables us to assess the risks associated with change, and what the key mitigation strategies need to be, while also developing a change management approach that incorporates measuring for intended and unintended consequences.
Solution identification / design
Once the problem is clearly understood and the change needed identified, we work with you to source a solution that meets these needs. Rather than looking to reverse engineer a problem into a solution we will work with partners and suppliers to identify solutions to the problem.
Our global network enables us to leverage an understanding of different approaches to problems and to capitalise on the work of others who have faced similar problems. Our relationships with technology partners means we can focus them on your needs and capacity to fund, implement and support a solution. We can negotiate an outcome based solution rather than a platform based one. If required we will bring them into the team to design the solution you need if a standard solution won’t deliver the outcomes needed.
Implementation project management
Implementing new technology is not as simple as unplugging the old system and plugging the new one. Gaining the buy-in and understanding of the team that will be using the solution will determine how well it performs in solving the problem it was developed to fix. In traditional organisations, with dispersed workforce’s this can be particularly challenging.
We work with your team to develop a plan that meets the cultural, operational and organisational needs that come with deploying new solutions. The scale of these plans can vary significantly and we ensure that the project is designed to be the best fit or your organisation.
As with any ongoing change programme, the Direct Impact Group can work with your team as a roadmap designer, implementation coach or project manager depending on your internal capacity and needs.
Change has long been considered the only constant, however today even change is changing.
The capacity to respond to this more dynamic environment is firstly addressed in the organisational development work we do with organisations that focuses on building a change embracing culture. As this capacity develops in an organisation and the partnerships it engages in, the ability to extend this approach into programme design and implementation can accelerate impact significantly.
The Direct Impact Group will assist you in identifying when and where this approach can be best applied for maximum impact, and support you in developing the capacity and processes to do this successfully.
Before embarking on a programme to implement agile programming it is important to understand the readiness of the teams that will be tasked to deliver it and the stakeholders they will work with. Rather than assuming that this will be successful by providing training and processes to the staff, we first assess the cultural readiness for the change, and what will be needed to allay fears, and close gaps in thinking.
Once the readiness is established we will develop and deploy a training programme that addresses the cultural and operational requirements needed to build an agile ready team. This approach will build an expectation of increased impact, mitigating the chances that the old way is reverted to as the known and safer option.
Agile programme design
When the team is ready we will work with them to facilitate the design process for an agile programme.
This process is an interactive one that builds a common understanding of the objectives, what success would look like and the capacity limitations that will affect delivery. With a clear design framework developed, the implementation plan will be developed using an agile model that precipitates regular assessment, evaluation and change through short term activity sprints focused on testing activities against their ability to deliver maximum impact.
Included in this design will be the development of clearly agreed decision making processes and protocols that will enable the project to deliver in a truly agile way. Providing a clear understanding of decision making authority up front speeds up the decision making process during implementation and frees people to work in an agile way with confidence.
Agile process implementation
No matter how good the plan, it will only succeed if implemented well. When that plan involves a new way of doing things, and an approach that is more dynamic and open to rapid change than traditional implementation models the risks of things going awry increases.
The Direct Impact Group can work with as either an implementation coach or project manager depending on your internal capacity and needs. This enables you to have trusted, external expertise on tap to support your team and drive the process towards realising the impact gains expected.
In the initial stages of change the new approach will challenge teams and heighten uncertainty. Having them supported by an independent resource that can encourage, support and challenge them in the process and thinking will speed up adoption of an agile process.
Keeping across the latest developments in any sector is difficult. Staying up to speed in a fast changing, multi-sector space like social impact while maintaining quality programme delivery is virtually impossible. With a matrix of stakeholders across a range of sectors, working globally on new initiatives being able to connect outside of the standard networks to understand what is working, and what isn’t, requires a level of capacity, and a breadth of networks that is beyond many of even the largest organisations.
With our work across the various different types of organisations delivering social impact, the influencers in social change and supplierr of new services we are in a unique position to provide insight and research into what is happening in a way that is relevant for your organisation.
Social Impact insight and intelligence
The Direct Impact Group’s reach across the social impact world enables us to keep you abreast of developments, including those that could most affect your organisation.
Rather than delivering broad based, generic newsletters we can tailor an insight service that provides you with information that is not only interesting for your organisation, but is targeted enough for use in decision making. With our approach based on building a strong understanding of your organisation, we can filter the high amount of information available and identify where both local and global developments could add value.
In a world where knowledge differentiates those who increase their social impact from those that fall behind, having a trusted advisor who is looking out for your interests could be a significant factor in maximising social impact.
Tailored opportunity identification
Having access to information is one thing, having it provided in a format that spells out where the opportunities may lie for your organisation adds a whole new level of value.
In a dynamic operating environment, the benefits of being able to move on opportunities quickly, with an awareness of what has worked or not worked for organisations in other markets is critical to maximising your impact.
The Direct Impact Group can work with you to identify opportunities that will accelerate your impact. Based around our insight gathering work and extensive networks we can identify prospective partnerships, new operating models and new funding models to increase scale, reach, and impact. We will provide you with an initial high level summary of potential opportunities for evaluation before moving on to more in-depth analysis to develop the concept and assess its fit for you.
The quality of decisions is usually directly related to the quality of the information available to the decision makers. However, gathering the right data and being able to assess it with the clarity, speed and independence needed is challenging in organisations with limited resources.
The Direct Impact Group can provide targeted research that draws on the full breadth of our networks, insight and expertise. Combining this broad insight with a clear understanding of your needs, organisation and operating environment we then develop research outcomes that fit your requirements and decision making needs.
Examples of research we can provide include: