I am very grateful to Morgan MacDonald from Offsetters for introducing me to the concept of balancing measurements in time and space. This is a very simple idea that provides a powerful check on your reporting.
When looking at your selected measures, you can plot them in a series of circles (you can do this literally or figuratively) related to time period and spatial relationship to your organization.
On the time dimension, are you measuring things that are happening right now, this quarter, this month? Or are you also measuring things that are happening soon – over a period of months. And are you attempting to measure things that happen over a longer time period – perhaps years. This is often where the real impact of your work is felt. Phoenix Print Shop in Toronto sends out email questionnaires to the alumni of their youth program six months, one year and two years after leaving the program. This provides a valuable source of data on the success of the program and is useful not only for reporting but in fine tuning the details of the program.
For the space dimension, it is useful to check whether you are reporting on things happening purely inside your organization, which is often the case. When communicating your impact, the relationships you have across the boundary of your organization are important to capture – for example the partnerships you build, the referrals, the collaborations and the joint successes. It is also important to illustrate how you are linking your internal goals to external impacts. Be careful here as it is easy to swing too far in the opposite direction and only concentrate on what is happening outside and ignore your own environmental footprint or hiring processes or efficiency targets.
Next time a final wrap-up and some practical steps for you to take with your own organization.