Icons for world peace? No, ICAN.

Haha. No. It’s not ICONS for world peace. It’s ICAN.

(But icons do help make an impressive theory of change. And they can help a lot with  data visualization. Of course, you have to head over to Stephanie Evergreen‘s site for more on using icons like a professional.

And, with additions to PowerPoint like the “insert icon” function, it’s now even easier to use visual cues in telling whatever story you need. For the really great icons, I spend my time searching through the thousands of options at the Noun Project.  It’s amazing what kinds of fun visuals you can find there.)

noun_1007243_ccToday, in honor of the fact that the Nobel Peace Prize was announced,  and everyone is talking about peace. Here’s the iconic icon (also logo) for today!  Click to check out why they were awarded the prize.

In addition to these considerations for why they won, ICAN does a lot of great visual advocacy, like this:

But, also this.





Contribution vs Attribution – A Pointless Debate


RCT-Gold-StandardThere are three certainties in life. The first two are death and taxes. The third – known only to monitoring and evaluation (M&E) practitioners – is that during any workshop on M&E, someone will smugly point out that we should be examining contribution, not attribution.

Those of you without experience in M&E jargon (lucky you!) will need a bit of help at this point. “Attribution” is the idea that a change is solely due to your intervention. If I run a humanitarian programme dedicated to handing out buckets, then the gift of a bucket is ‘attributable’ to my programme. I caused it, and nobody can say otherwise. “Contribution” is the idea that your influence is just one of many factors which contribute to a change. Imagine that I was lobbying for a new anti-corruption law. If that law passes, it would be absurd to say that I caused it directly…

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A place to start

I’ve been watching Swedes seeing refugees arrive in Stockholm for days now. There are definitely beautiful examples of compassion and generosity out there. There are also a whole lot of people afraid and unsure of changes (on all sides).

Videos like this simple take on a complex issue can be so helpful in starting the dialogue needed. We have to acknowledge and address people’s fear and misunderstanding.

Let’s share this, discuss, learn, act.

measuring vibrancy, love in communities

When I sent out the idea for ImpactPeace to some friends I got one great response right away. It was from Gena Gammie, a great friend who a couple of weeks ago met Steve Wright, who works at the Grameen Foundation. Wright, as Gena put it,  “has started to do some really interesting thinking around how to measure ‘vibrancy’ and love in communities, as a measure for development and generally progress toward the type of society we want.”  He gave this talk recently, which Gena found to represent really powerful, innovative thinking.

“Communities are the only context where love is a currency.”

Wright suggests investors look into communities for love as evidence of success. He talks about ‘vibrancy’ as a way to define healthy communities, saying vibrancy can indeed be measurable if we think of communities as networks, and borrow from other sciences such as fractal mathematics, network science, and big data. Vibrancy is presented as a metric of real social good: it is good because a community member could only be ‘valued’ in terms of her contribution to vibrancy, and it would be our capacity to give and reputation of giving that would make us valuable.

Wright’s approach innovates our conceptualization of ‘currency’ and therefore can redefine the notion of a return on investment. It would be interesting to follow up on how his suggestion for metrics of vibrancy play out (maybe in a future post!), in the meantime, similar thinking exists around how we can operationalize positive concepts such as resilience.

Wright’s talk makes clear pressure to prove return on investment in quantifiable metrics is faced by all innovators, not least in the private sector. For most, ‘social return on investment’, Wright says, really means “measuring social outcomes is really hard and people only care about money anyway so lets reduce social return to dollars to make everyone more comfortable.” The need for simply quantification works against what is really needed : effective solutions to real problems . This is the same frustration of anyone trying to effect change in a complex system of interdependent mechanisms.