Friday, February 16, 2007

I Like Metrics

Recently, I've been thinking about measuring returns to social entrepreneurship.

Returns are usually measured by profits and, perhaps, profits indicate that a social venture is run well. However, how should we measure returns to society-at-large?

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4 Comments:

Blogger Juergen Nagler said...

As a starting point: The number of people that benefit from the social enterprise... discussion open to further definition (poor people?, critical service/product?, direct/indirect benefits...).

Cheers,
Juergen

9:29 PM  
Blogger Anne said...

That's a great idea, Juergen.

One of the interesting questions that falls out of that metric is how to measure indirect benefits. I've had a few discussions with social entrepreneurs about how to do this and we can't come up with anything very satisfying (apart from estimates).

I'm also intrigued: what do you mean by critical service/product?

9:38 PM  
Anonymous Erik Pukinskis said...

Anne,

(Thanks for your blog, btw... I've really been enjoying reading it since finding it a couple weeks ago.)

Regarding metrics... have you seen the Social ROI (Return On Investment) blog? It doesn't answer your question directly, but some of the postings at least provide food for thought on the subject.

It seem to me that any metrics you apply would have to be culturally dependent. For me, I think creating passion for learning, physical and mental health, financial stability, active citizenship, sustainable living practices, and nurturing social practices are all important. And metrics that measure those things are measuring social returns.

But someone in a different cultural niche would probably have a different opinion about what's important. And even someone who agreed that the things I listed are important might disagree on what each thing meant. What's mental health, for example?

Furthermore, I think metrics inherently distract us from the practice of discovering on an individual basis what is important to people. There's a danger of "teaching to the test" so to speak.

Anyway, just some midnight rambling.

Erik

12:42 AM  
Anonymous Houghton said...

Good catch...I am now reading this book.

Managing and Measuring Social Enterprises
by Rob Paton

http://www.anobii.com/books/01b81dff6398a7ef40/

Houghton

12:58 AM  

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