Challenges and Advantages of Impact Measurement

The saying, "badhti ka naam zindagi," which translates to "life is about moving forward"

May 08, 2024

The saying, "badhti ka naam zindagi," which translates to "life is about moving forward," became a powerful mantra during a recent client consulting project. The initial project scope underwent a significant shift, demanding a high degree of adaptability from our team.

We had meticulously planned and researched a comprehensive impact measurement tool using industry metrics. This involved considerable time and effort, including in-depth research on SDG alignment. However, the project direction changed, and we were tasked with developing a white paper on the importance of impact measurement and management.

While initially discouraged, we took a short pause to regroup and acknowledge the change. Recognizing our responsibility to the client, we then dove headfirst into understanding the new requirements. Our dedicated professor played a crucial role in this pivot, ensuring we had a clear understanding of the revised expectations.

The revised scope presented an unexpected opportunity for learning. We shifted our focus to crafting a compelling white paper that would convince stakeholders of the value of impact measurement. This research process led to a valuable understanding of how to build a strong business case for impact.

Our research revealed that impact measurement and management isn't just beneficial for society; it's a strategic advantage for businesses as well.  It fosters differentiation in the marketplace, provides valuable data for customer insights, and ultimately drives revenue growth. Additionally, impact stories strengthen community ties, leading to better access and stakeholder engagement. Studies indicate that a significant portion of investors (90%) would invest in a fund that measures its impact rather than a fund which doesn't. 

The importance of impact measurement extends beyond financial gain. It fosters a more holistic approach, integrating all stakeholders – not just shareholders – into the business process. This creates a win-win scenario for everyone, from the environment and its people to the shareholders themselves.

Despite the noble goal of measuring impact, critical thinking is essential.  "Impact washing," the exaggeration of positive impact, must be avoided to prevent misleading stakeholders and hindering progress. Data collection and benchmarking present another significant hurdle. Gathering and organizing accurate data can be a time-consuming and resource-intensive endeavor.  The subsequent stages of analysis and interpretation further compound the challenge.

These complexities necessitate a concerted effort from practitioners to strengthen the field. We must prioritize robust data collection methodologies and invest in developing clear and consistent impact measurement frameworks. By acknowledging these challenges and working collaboratively to address them, we can ensure that impact measurement serves as a powerful tool for driving positive social and environmental change.

This consulting project proved to be a valuable learning experience, not just in the field of sustainable investing but also in life skills. We entered the project with limited knowledge of impact measurement. Initially hesitant to ask questions, we gradually overcame the fear of being judged and embraced the desire to learn and produce impactful work. We learned to be assertive while maintaining flexibility, advocating for our ideas while remaining adaptable. Most importantly, we learned that good intentions alone are insufficient. Real change requires dedicated effort and a willingness to adapt. This project served as a powerful reminder of the importance of embracing change, fostering a growth mindset, and constantly seeking knowledge.