A busy week so a shorter newsletter. We’re still exploring ripple effects and how - when you feel like a drop in the ocean - you can make some sense of the changes you might be making in the world, your organisation, your life.

One simple but deceptively effective thing I’d recommend is keeping a logbook. Not a journal (no flowery language required) but a literal list of mundane details and day to day ‘little wins’. Useful for spotting the more subtle changes that may one day precipitate the larger, more noticeable ones. We’re often so desperate for the latter we forget to notice the former.

Happy noticing


🧮 People asked for an editable version of the impact framework. Ask and you shall receive. Use it, hack it and feedback on it (including if I have the sharing settings wrong and it doesn't work).

🌀 Jesper shared an old slide on impact assessment trade-offs on our team Slack. Think we’d probably all be well served by thinking along these lines, regardless of role.


Impact assessment - of a project, a policy, of a team - often plays numerous roles all at the same time, though that's not always obvious. From 'did it work' to 'who gets the credit'; from seeing things through a lens of contributing to an issue versus being held solely accountable for something. From causality to complexity. It's a large open debate with - and correct me if I'm wrong - no agreed upon answers. Just people feeling their way to figure out what 'assessment' is most useful.

The challenge with assessment open season is we all bring our biases to figuring out what impact we want to see. If we're not careful, it's easy to confuse our perspective for the perspective on what matters and what gets measured. Probably worth being intentional about the trade-offs whatever the project. What do you use to have those discussions?

Impact assessment trade-offs

Community noticeboard

A useful capture of ways to sneak in ‘tactics’ of inclusion and power shifting in how we work together. Yes, it’s liberating structures, and yes it takes everyone because the way we deify ’heroes’ is part of the problem.

A field guide to managing complexity and chaos. Timely. “Once we understand complexity we know that starting journeys with a sense of direction leaves us more open to discovering novelty... opportunities and threats that we could not have imagined in advance".

Would also recommend Dave Snowden on children’s parties and complexity if you’re just dipping your toe into that way of thinking (you should).

Related: “legibility” describes the human need to simplify complex systems in order to have a measure of control over them. Thea wrote about why it doesn’t work.

What if we approached social R&D with the same rigour used to develop vaccines? i.e. we had some direction. TACSI with good points on needless competition and a lack of sharing across orgs (and government departments?) that are working on the same issues.

Fast Company has started something called Fast Government: “stories about leaders who are bringing entrepreneurial zeal to state, federal, and local agencies and offices”. Hope they remember that fast is not a direction.

Thinking forward is SOIF’s framework for intergenerational fairness. Includes two nice questions: What is, in your view, the best gift you received from past generations? And what is the legacy you most want to leave to people in the future? 

And on the future, last year researchers asked social scientists and regular folk to make predictions about how Covid-19 would lead to societal change. Who guessed right? Nobody. Oh for a crystal ball and some humility.

Any idea what a headless chicken fish, flabby whalefish and a dumbo octopus have in common? They live deeeeeep in the sea. Fun site. 10/10 would recommend.

If you’ve got something you’d like to share please send it my way!

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