#25 Measurement without purpose is futile!

Image of coloured rubber ducks

Over the past fortnight I have enjoyed some key opportunities to speak about my favourite topic -summarized in my favourite one liner:

Measurement without purpose is futile!

When thinking about purpose I am immediately drawn to the United Nations Global Goals. The Global Goals or SDGs (Sustainability Development Goals) represent an overarching macro lead for the new paradigm and purpose economy. I am most supportive of these 17 macro aspirations along with their corresponding 34 targets – as this is one of the keys to plugging what I refer to as the missing link – another one liner:

Decision making at the local level – the missing link!

The missing link and notion for decision making at the local represents a ‘holy grail combo’ to ensure that grass roots not for profit provision do not get lost in the dichotomies of progress. Whether this progress be improved governance arrangements or reduction of duplication through varying governance arrangements – alliances/mergers/acquisitions.

I must declare a strong conflict of interest in this missing link as it forms the basis of my PhD studies inquiry and proposed Thesis title – (Decision making at the local level – the missing link! – I hope you can name a Thesis using a one liner)

Throughout my varied speaking opportunities and Consequences Blog updates I continue to build on the story of #GoodSave finding it useful to explain what purposeful prevention looks like from a practical exemplar demonstration. Moving on from one liners to a full sentence please see below what I mean by the phrase purposeful prevention.

Purposeful prevention is the sum of outcomes and collaboration working in parallel to bring about systemic change to achieve social impact

I have continued in my updates to examine and share the preparation stages of #GoodSave as this IS where purposeful prevention can be best demonstrated. The story of #GoodSave is a story how a total organization outcomes framework was established thus giving preparation for collaboration with the selection of governance arrangements following – not leading those decisions. In this Blog#25 I plan to use #GoodSave to also break three myths that are often used when considering the Global Goals. These myths need to be defused and blasted away and it’s great that this can be done through an Australian case study and one that is imbedded within the Not For Profit sector.

I recently spent time in the UK discussing their approach to the Global Goals and in this experience I had an opportunity to review the actions of Finland. Finland is currently ranking number 4 in the world on the Global Goals scale. I was particularly interesting in learning what Finland is doing and how they are defusing the following three myths:

Myth 1 Global Goals are primarily for international development issues

Myth 2 Global Goals are too audacious and aspirational

Myth 3 Global Goals are not needed as existing frameworks are already in place

With this Blog being set as a myth blasting exercise let’s begin with the Global Goals statistics for Australia. For the 17 targets Australia currently ranks 18th out of 34 countries. We are in the top 5 in 7 of the 34 indicators and unfortunately in 11 of the indicators we can be found in the bottom third. This is not good enough! (see link to global benchmarks https://www.bertelsmann-stiftung.de/fileadmin/files/BSt/Publikationen/GrauePublikationen/Studie_NW_Sustainable-Development-Goals_Are-the-rich-countries-ready_2015.pdf)

There is not a loud Australian voice on the world stage YET and as a result we miss opportunities to be seen and play a lead role in social change. Along with the need to blast these myths I also ask the question – what is stopping Australia?

Beginning with Myth 1 and the challenge of Global Goals being more about international development issues rather than being domestic orientated I suggest the way to crack this myth begins with ducks!

If we are to be a proactive society then change begins at home, it begins with what you do – it’s a bit like getting your own ducks in a row – (just as we did in #GoodSave)

Using ducks as a metaphor for the new paradigm (purpose economy) the way we approach decision making for the future cannot be as we previously have approached it and therefore figuratively speaking ‘our ducks need to be lined up differently’. It is true that the world is full of much more distraction and moving at a much faster pace than ever before. We are currently in the fourth industrial era, which is beyond the digital era and laying the foundations of the purpose economy.

This is also an important point in cracking Myth 1 because if we are to be in a new paradigm shift then strategies of earlier eras are possibly no longer fit for purpose. Trying to solve international development issues without addressing domestic issues has come to an end.

Likewise approaching Global Goals in a broader way (both international and domestic) will require different approaches to meet domestic and development demands. Such change begins with each individual, community, organisation, sector before change at a national and global level can be truly achieved.

So I present you the kind of ducks (see Blog picture) that demonstrate a fundamental part of the #GoodSave case study which blasted Myth 1 through having an Emergent Strategy. An Emergent strategy is about shifting away from egos and being focused on growing the outcomes not growing the organisation (another one liner). An Emergent strategy is more like a compass giving direction- just like the ducks in the picture are definitely lining up with the first duck being very clear but the following ducks are much fuzzier and yet to be defined. The duck metaphor presents a metaphor that the end destination is clear but how it will be achieved is not as clear – and does not need to be.

#GoodSave presents as a case study of how the Not For Profit sector can better meet outcomes and purpose first and embrace governance arrangements as a secondary drive rather than the other way around. Although the Global Goals were not around at the time the #GoodSave journey began it did not stop us from adhering to a macro agenda. So in cracking Myth 1 we created an Emergent Strategy – Mobilise 2016+ – ten year strategy that engaged all parts of the organisation describing purpose that scaled all levels including international, national, local.

The #GoodSave story for Myth 2 and introducing #R4O

For over 8 years I was CEO of Good Beginnings Australia and charged with leading an awesome vision of giving every child in Australia a good beginning. During this time I was confronted by the mass duplication of services, endless reduction of funds but increasing social need – these experiences were systematic and all signs that both the sector and its funding models were broken and not fit for purpose.

The first phase of #R4O – ready for outcomes provides another opportunity to blast through Myth #2.

In the case of #GoodSave it was the approach of the sophisticated outcome framework that Good Beginnings Australia had developed that definitely attracted Save The Children Australia thus resulting in #GoodSave. When an organisation can account for its purpose and provide intelligence regarding cost effectiveness and social return on investment it of course yielded a high level performance – as was the case for Good Beginnings Australia.

As demonstrated with the #GoodSave case study the action of focusing on purpose before process and performance meant discussions were about the bold goal i.e. All children in Australia having a good beginning with the decision of what governance arrangement i.e. Merger/ acquisition becoming second place.

In blasting through the second Myth having focus on the aspiration and purpose is integral to accountability. If measurement only focuses on process and performance – often referred to as outputs, inputs and/or indicators – results are futile.

Without the first alignment of purpose and using another metaphor, it is a little like moving the cars around the car park and not sorting out what is actually causing the traffic jam! Having alignment to the purpose being as aspirational as possible with clear linkage to micro application is key to systemic change.

If in leading up to #GoodSave there had not been 8 years of an outcome framework and robust alignment at all levels we would not have embraced Myth 2 and been collaboration ready which is integral to blasting the 3rd Myth.

The #GoodSave story for Myth 3 and introducing #R2C

#GoodSave demonstrates how Myth 3 is blasted by being ready to collaborate – #R2C. Such a position would not have been possible without all players buying into the moral obligation and common cause – disrupting the system until it works for children.

When I say all players I am making reference from Board, Executive, program staff, including end users. In #GoodSave the collaboration was set around the very clear collaboration experience which encapsulated through an agreed Manifesto or Creed. This became a shared mantra as we entered into the consideration of the governance frameworks. This is important as during the decision period for selecting the best governance arrangement the need to be more purpose than ego driven and adopt the moral obligation high ground is an imperative.

The Manifesto became the mantra for change at all levels of the organisation. Likewise in considering the Global Goals they present such a mantra that describes the collective way that domestic and internal development approaches come together to achieve systemic change.

In this Blog #25 I believe I have used an Australian case study (through #GoodSave) that at a global level and a micro level has emulated the necessary Global Goals action required nationally and globally. #Good Save provides an example of how the three Global Goals myths can be blasted:

Myth 1 Global Goals are primarily for development issues – NO they are a domestic issue too

#GoodSave identified how the engagement of all and agreement of an Emergent strategy (Mobilise 2026+) created an important link between the macro and micro.

Myth 2 Global Goals are too audacious and aspirational – NO Measurement without purpose is futile #GoodSave purpose purpose purpose without its outcome action it would have not been in the position to be agile and transform into the new paradigm and purpose economy.

Myth 3 Existing frameworks are already in place NO only the global goals align domestic, external and international needs – the alignment is unique #GoodSave example of being ready to collaborate and the Manifesto that on one page described the collaborative commitment which in our case was to disrupt the system until it works for children.

I will continue to explore how Australia can take a stronger lead in the Global Goal action. In this I look forward to sharing other projects and case studies I am involved with including CultuRecode™; Volunteer Family Connect; The Growth Project.

For now lets keep blasting through these myths as we owe it to the future generations to be the generation that created rather than the one that lost the cause!

References

http://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/sustainable-development-goals/

Global Goals benchmarks

https://www.bertelsmann-stiftung.de/fileadmin/files/BSt/Publikationen/GrauePublikationen/Studie_NW_Sustainable-Development-Goals_Are-the-rich-countries-ready_2015.pdf

Presentations

Connecting Today. Creating Tomorrow #2030NOWAU www.socialgoodsummit.com.au

Not For Profit Leadership & Sustainability www.criterionconferences.com/event/nfpl/

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