Tool: Impact Story

impact story

By Arbresh Useini, 16. December 2018

This tool helps you understand what impact you have, not focusing at the product but focusing on what problem you solve and what value you create.

This blog describes what the Impact Story tool can do for your organization, how to use it, and how we at Bloch&Østergaard use it.

Impact – a different view on strategy

Many organizations focus on a 3-year strategy and expect it to be enough. The decision makers take a few days offsite to develop a 3-year forecast for the organization. Often, it’s based on here-and-now factors, focusing on numbers without involving any employees. When they are done, they return to the office presenting forecasts, must-win-battles, strategic focus areas and their 3-year vision – maybe even visualize it on the cantina wall. From here, the decision makers sit back and expect the organization to follow through.

But experience has also taught us, that after a few weeks people forget it and goes back to their day-to-day tasks. Somehow the big 3-year strategy hides itself on the wall. Why? Because a 3-year strategy doesn’t make us aware of why we do what we do, and what impact the we have in the world, to our customers, and to our employees.

Leaders and employees should understand why the company does what it does, what problems we are solving as a team, but most importantly: for whom, and what’s the impact of the work?

Therefore, we present the Impact Story Template. By using this tool, you and your employees will come closer to understanding what kind of impact you have and who it’s for. It helps you understand the value you create when you solve problems as an organization:

We [do stuff]
so that [someone]
can [do stuff]

Download the Impact Story Template right here

What does the Impact Story template do for your organization?

The Impact Story helps you understand:

  • What problem you solve,
  • for whom you solve it,
  • and what value you’re creating.

You will notice the template creates a good debate about framing and wording, discussing what the real values are and for whom it benefits. By the end of the discussing it should have made the employees reflect on why they go to work, what their impact is, that supports the company’s purpose.

How to get going?

Download the Impact Story Tool. Then, follow these steps on how to use the tool:

  1. Gather groups of 4-5 people, with a mix of leaders and employees, and from across the organization
  2. Start in the middle of the template: WHO are you working for? Map out the different personas that you create value for.
  3. Then for each persona, describe what actions you perform; and what value that creates.
  4. Gather all the templates on a board and bulk together those with matching themes.
  5. Use the result for focusing your energy and resources on the right activities; those that solves the right problems for your customers and employees, and that fit with your mission and purpose.

The expert level

Also, it gets you a step closer on creating an impact accounting, that is, a feedback loop that measures your non-financial results.

Based on the understanding of the impact, you can setup feedback loops with employees and customers, getting an understanding of the functional and emotional value, that you create. The value can be tangible and non-tangible, and the feedback look will be both qualitative and quantitative.

Make it a habit

After being aware of your organizations impact, it should become a habit for you to continuously understand, what kind of impact you do.

At Bloch&Østergaard we use the Impact Stories at our half-year strategy days, and a miniature version of this every Friday at our weekly meetings. Our purpose is to create organizations, where people want to show up. We start our Friday meetings by asking each other “what have you done this week to fulfill our purpose?”. By answering this question it helps us understand, what kind of impact we ave regarding our purpose as an organization, internally and externally.

I suggest you incorporate the Impact Story as a routine in your organization too, on 1:1 meetings, at business unit seminars, when you prioritize activities, and when you acknowledge peoples work. See more examples in the blog post on How to create your organizations WHY.

Download the Impact Story Template right here

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