Thursday, 23 May 2013

How can organisations best report and improve their performance?

Traditionally, reporting has been in the form of financial accounts and directors’ reports. More recently, many firms have reported their impact through separate Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) documents. For many organisations, such as creative or social enterprises, the impact on their community or target beneficiaries requires even greater focus.

Measurement frameworks often result in complex and esoteric concepts or inappropriate consistency forced upon what is inevitably a complex picture. They also often forget the very humanity of the issues they are attempting to ‘measure’. Furthermore, reporting regimes are often forced upon an already stretched sector of the business community (often linked to grant and donor funding).

We have attempted to avoid these issues with the creation of our StrategicFrame at the University of Sydney Business School. This approach builds on over 2 years of research working with social and creative enterprises, environmental businesses, and other commercial operations. We have sought to bring the locus of understanding and measurement back to the enterprise and its beneficiaries. We explicitly privilege understanding by recognising the enterprise mission and the situation in which the enterprise operates (e.g. the beneficiaries and what needs to change). The StrategicFrame is an iterative process that can be simple or complex depending on your organisation’s needs, size, stage of development, and available time. The process of ‘measuring’ requires organisations do more than ‘count’, with the process including phases of understanding, measuring, reporting and reviewing. Each of these phases are organised by six key elements of focus.

The application of The StrategicFrame need not replace other tools in the impact measurement space. It is a framework for organising thinking around impact in a more holistic and strategic manner.

Author: Dr Richard Seymour
Senior Lecturer, Innovation and Enterprise Program Director, and Co-Director of Innovation & Entrepreneurship Research Group at the University of Sydney Business School

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