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BK Magazine Change Toolkit
Posted by Charlotte Ashlock, Executive Editor, Berrett-Koehler Publishers Inc.
Charlotte Ashlock is a crazy idealist trying to make the world a better place!
Measuring Progress on the BK Mission
Based on a conversation with Marc Epstein & Kristi Yuthas
1. How to measure a social mission? Many of the authors who publish with Berrett-Koehler are inspired by the company’s mission, “A community dedicated to creating a world that works for all.” But are the books we write & publish truly helping create a world that works for all? How can we know?
2. Luckily- we have a book about that! Or we will have one, soon. When Marc Epstein and Kristi Yuthas came to the office for their Measuring Social Impacts Author Day, we asked them “How can we measure how much social change happens because of a book?” Their answers were very thought-provoking.
3. The secret: look at impact, not outputs. “Many social good operations just measure their outputs,” the authors told us. They measure the number of meals distributed, the number of children in after-school programs, or (in the case of BK) the number of books published. However, measuring outputs is just the first step. What you really need to measure is IMPACT.
4. Have crystal-clear goals. The first step to measuring impact is being crystal-clear about your goals. Fuzzy goals lead to fuzzy results. List the desired impacts for your book in terms as clear and unambiguous as possible. There can be multiple goals, there can be both obvious and hidden agendas, you just need to be clear with yourself.
Here’s an example of potential book goals:
(These are hypothetical goals for a very exciting upcoming Berrett-Koehler book, The Idea Driven Organization.)
5. Have crystal-clear means of measurement. When the goals are clear enough, the numerical measures of impact tend to spring into focus. In the example above, you could measure
6. Identify the assumptions in your logical chain. You then need to establish the logical, casual, link between your actions and your desired impacts. Many of our books focus on influencing leaders, so let’s examine the chain of assumptions there:
7. What percentage of readers get changed? If any of these assumptions are wrong, the whole chain snaps. In truth, I suspect it’s more like a pyramid or a funnel than a chain. A certain percentage of leaders take it off the shelf and read; a certain percentage of readers act; a certain percentage of action-takers act correctly; and a certain percentage of organizations respond well. If we sell 100,000 copies, only 1% of them may end up being true units of change. I maintain the even 1% is more than worth fighting (and publishing for) but it would be nice to know if it was 20% or 50% or only half a percent we’re talking about for any given book.
8. Identify leverage points. Also, at each drop-off point, it would be good to analyze what went wrong. Would a better cover & title (or a shorter book) have made the leader more likely to read? Should we put stronger action suggestions at the conclusion of each chapter? What parts of the book are the leaders misunderstanding? If the leader does everything right, what backlash or unexpected consequences occur? What will be the mechanisms for collecting this information?
9. Ask the readers! I’m currently working to build stronger customer connection systems into our new website. What if in the back of every book we printed, we asked a question? Something like, “Dear Reader- Are you using the ideas in this book? What happens when you act on this book’s ideas? Please tell us- go to this web address and share your journey.” ” (Or the question could be personalized for each individual book and it’s goals. )
Social Impact Creation Cycle
In Measuring Social Impact, Marc and Kristi will provide this chart of the “Social Impact Creation Cycle.”
Applying the Social Impact Creation Cycle to Berrett-Koehler
In the context of Berrett-Koehler publishing, here’s how each step on the chart might be translated:
1) What will you invest? Time and heart.
2) What problem will you address? Smoothing the path that lies between words and action which creates positive change in the world.
3) What steps will you take? Strive to optimize the social impact of our books.
4) How will you measure success?
5) How can you increase impact?