Measures, targets, metrics, ROI, KPIs.. we can’t escape the things. In a gem of a post, Tara Hunt explores the idea of measures for economic, social and online community health. Related and also interesting reading is the Futurebrand 100 as reported on Antony’s blog.
I think Tara’s identified a really important missing element in a shift towards social progress that’s occuring in commercial, public and private spheres, particularly amongst online communities across all three. Replacing GDP with a General Progress Indicator is spot-on. There’s more to life than economic growth indeed.
In a comment on the piece, Colin provides a great quote: “what gets measured gets done”. Or, attempts are made to get it done, and lots of effort goes into working out how to measure it, and a large amount of faffing about with powerpoint goes on regardless.
I think some politicians and many communities in the UK and elsewhere are waking up to the opportunity cost of a perpetual economic growth based model. In basic economics (as I hazily recall from university) opportunity cost is a really important concept for measuring the true cost of an opportunity – including the lost benefit of alternatives. So scary stuff for businesses that pollute overly the environment and obsessively use powerpoint. I love Edward Tufte on powerpoint by the way. I’d also love to be involved in determining the true indicators of progress.. They would surely have to be developed by an independent entity, not a single political party.. Perhaps it this could happen if the wave carrying social enterprise continues. A cross-party body balanced with outside representation?
Back to measures.. Been thinking about the Social Investment Bank concept a lot. For the benefit of those who haven’t read the previous post – this a concept of the utilisation of unused assets (or idle finance/dormant capital) by channelling it into socially beneficial initiatives – eg projects aimed at reducing poverty in deprived areas, through the support of social enterprises that generate social value as well as profit.
So a venture capital fund of sorts but with the key metric, social value, as it’s primary indicator of success. At a micro level, it’s pretty easy to set up a social enterprise as a legal entity. The growth of social enterprises would be a good and relatively easy to determine measure of progress. Amongst the metrics could be the volume and diversity of lending and success of funds shared by a Social Investment Bank. I guess I should read the full report and see if this sort of stuff is included in it’s objectives.
As for online.. for commercial entities. It seems to me that an important approach to take is to rethink what constitutes brand equity amongst groups like boutiquers and work out ways to measure it. My colleague Antony Mayfield’s post on Futurelab 100’s remix of the Interbrand 100 discusses the Futurelab criteria and the positive and interesting shift that could occur if theses measures were the norm. It’s a great way of looking at which brands ‘get it’.
Link: The Futurelab 100