Impact Strategy

We help mission-driven organizations clarify who they serve, what impact they will hold themselves accountable for, and the programs and services required to achieve those outcomes.

Whether you call it an impact strategy, a theory of change, or a logic model, it’s essential to get clear about the impact you’re aiming for and how you intend to achieve it. Depicted below, our systematic approach to developing strategy and designing programs helps organizations shift from providing services to actually driving impact. We do that by combining your values with objective data and lots of pressure testing to maximize the likelihood that your strategy will truly make a difference in the world.

Impact Strategy Graphic

To help develop or refine your strategy, we offer a number of services.

Outcomes Identification

Before you plot your strategic path, it’s crucial to know exactly where you’re headed. Most organizations have mission and vision statements. We’ll help you translate broad aspirations into a detailed articulation of the ultimate success you desire, and long- and near-term outcomes for which you’ll hold yourself accountable. We then identify the clear, specific, and measurable indicators associated with each of these conceptual outcomes. Finally, we’ll work with you to identify the conditions, services, and solutions required for impact.

All of this requires art, science, and a bit of iteration. We recognize the importance of incorporating stakeholders’ various values and perspectives, so we work hard to determine outcomes through a collaborative process that’s infused with data about what actually works in your program areas. Over the years, we’ve found that this approach both improves the ‘answer’ and dramatically increases alignment and commitment among stakeholders.

Strategy Development

We’ve developed extensive, bullet-proof strategic plans for dozens of organizations. But we also know that sometimes all it takes is a few good questions, some informative data, and a little facilitated discussion. So whether you’ve got just a one-day board retreat or an entire team for months at a time, our extensive experience helping organizations develop strategic plans adds an extra layer of rigor and clarity.

Beneficiary Needs Analysis

In the business world, great companies know precisely what their customers want, how to meet their needs, and what opportunities or impediments affect success. And that’s just to sell a shirt or a phone. In the social sector, beneficiaries’ or clients’ needs, the systems they interact with, and the barriers they are up against are much more complex. Which means it’s that much more important to understand who they are, what they aspire to, the resources they already have, and the challenges they face. This level of insight only comes through primary research—observations, field work, interviews, focus groups, surveys, and more. But investments here inevitably pay off in increased impact and efficiency. (See our analogous work in Customer Segmentation and Journey Mapping at Cicero Group.)

Landscape Analysis

Even if you’re not worried about competition from other providers, it’s essential to understand what else is being done and how your work fits into the broader ecosystem that affects the people you serve and outcomes you seek. Using a mix of qualitative and quantitative methods, we can help you understand how your organization is distinct and how it’s not, where there are opportunities for collaboration and where you could consider expansion.

Resource Modeling

It’s no secret that most mission-driven organizations are not flush with extra funds. So estimating what kinds of funds, resources, and capabilities you’ll need to achieve your goals can be a make or break exercise. We partner with you to develop solid projections of what it will take to pursue your plan, and we’ll explore a range of scenarios and tradeoffs to help you make the most of your limited resources.

Program Design & Implementation

Whether you’ve already figured out all of the above or not, how you do the work you do is what will ultimately determine your impact. Building on insights from your own experience as well as primary and secondary research, we work with you to design or refine your programs and services to maximize the intersection of your organization’s resources with beneficiaries’ needs.

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