A Half-Book Review (meaning I am half-way through the book)

Image by user lahlah, Found at Flickr: http://bit.ly/pVKmj3

In a previous post, I promised to get the free eBook Leap of Reason: Managing to Outcomes in an Era of Scarcity, read it, and let all of you know what it was about. I’m happy to say that I am half-way through (reading it on my iPhone, I’m at about page 210 of 405), and finished with the chapter that I like the most so far: Chapter 5, AQuantum Leap of Reason. I’m definitely going to finish the eBook before I give my final review, but I’ll point out the coolest part of this eBook now: the Take-Homes in Tweets found at the end of each chapter. These are priceless one-liners that pretty much sum-up the chapters nicely.

In my first post mentioning this eBook, I wrote that the author, Mario Morino, defines managing to outcome as “building an organizational culture that focuses on doing meaningful, measurable good.” Vague, but it gets cleared up somewhat within the eBook itself. The first half of the eBook sets up the problem (“a vast majority of nonprofits do not have the benefit of good information and tools to determine where they’re headed, chart a logical course, and course-correct when they’re off”), posits that organizational culture is key to addressing the problem, gives examples of organizations taking innovative steps towards addressing the problem (Harlem Children’s Zone and Youth Villages are two examples used), and relates a sense of urgency about needing large-scale, in-depth approaches as solutions.

Chapter 5 has some suggestions about what needs to happen in the social sector to encourage a shift in most organizations to managing-to-outcomes. There are so many great parts to this chapter, I am tempted to write a post summarizing all of it. But to entice you to read it yourself, I’m going to talk about a few of the Take-Homes in Tweets from Chapter 5:

  • We could encourage various kinds of performance-based funding that would explicitly link payments to the achievement of outcomes.
    • What makes this difficult? Morino says part of what makes it hard is the lack of systems for collecting and documenting performance metrics. Tell me about it! Can anyone point me towards people and/or organizations working on this? Anyone know of a particularly useful system being used in the private sector that might be adaptable to the social sector?
    • While there are foundations and donors that do link their support to achievement of outcomes, most still have the problem of not wanting to fund administrative and overhead costs, which are integral to any organization’s success. Any system of collecting and documenting performance metrics would have to keep this in mind.
  • We could support the development of common frameworks within social-sector fields to create efficiencies and greater collective impact.
    • So, how can we develop these common frameworks, both for management in general, and for social impact assessment specifically? That is the entire crux of this blog, and I was so excited to read that Morino is thinking along the same lines.
  • We could establish a voluntary program of management certification, based on the successful ISO 9001 quality standards.
    • I put this one up just because I think it is a really cool idea. Obviously (it’s in the name!), managing-to-outcomes has a lot to do with overall management, of which measuring, assessing, and reporting are but one aspect. Having “management standards [that are] thoughtfully developed and [allow] for differences among nonprofits of different purposes, sizes, and budgets” is an ambitious challenge and still unknown territory. Sign me up to help! In that quote, if we replace the word “management” with the word “impact assessment,” that would pretty much be the holy grail to me.

Morino also suggests that we need to “build sector knowledge.” I hope that this blog can one day become what theTRASI Community is currently working towards – a comprehensive knowledge-repository and forum for Social Impact Assessment. Morino calls our attention to the Outcomes and Effective Practices Portal (OEPP), which is a similar idea, but, according to Morino, focused on performance management as a whole. I want to zero in on Social Impact Assessment, but I can’t wait to check the OEPP out!

So far, I’m digging this free eBook. Right on, Morino. Click here to get it.

Who else has read part or all of this eBook? I want to talk to you!!



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