On January 5th, Day 1 of the THINKTECH Accelerator, our Awardees hit the reset button. A new year meant being open to new thinking. Everyone had committed to a number of technology based milestones to be completed by June so the pressure was on. Helen McBreen of Atlantic Bridge Ventures set the tone for the voyage that lay ahead with key learnings from her days leading the NDRC Accelerators – “think-plan-do” & “always be learning”.
We often charge head first into projects but the simplicity of having a well developed plan that’s rooted in simple milestones with measurable metrics can be a defining task that sets you up best for success.
Pick a metric and set SMART goals
The day continued with a technology planning workshop run by Alex French, successful technology consultant of Bitbuzz & FrockAdvisor. Again the core messaging was clear and consistent;
- Plan your technology project into sequential tasks (For example an app, Tinder for Towns, where people swipe left/right against proposed ideas for your city)
- Nominate what you’re testing for and define what success looks like (People like ‘street swipe’ functionality)
- Pick a metric that best measures the success you want to achieve (90% positive user scores from test period)
The commitment to measurement isn’t just the collection of data, but drives an organisation’s vision, plan and goal setting. It also allows organisations to stop and ask ‘are we using the right metric and do we need to change’.
Avoid the trap of saying ‘I wish I had measured that’
The day concluded with a focused fundraising talk from Eoghan Stack of the DCU Ryan Academy, and Social Innovation Fund Ireland’s CEO, Deirdre Mortell. As CEO of the One Foundation, which spent €85 million over 10 years funding a number of non-profit organisations solving social issues, she always placed an early focus on social impact. Questions like the below focused organisations to start thinking immediately about social impact;
- What does success look like in 10 years? and,
- What would you need to measure now to ensure you got there
When defining success there’s often a need to track both direct and indirect social impact. For an example of direct impact, an ageing organisation may measure the number of older people supported by volunteers &/or app technology. An indirect impact example may involve a change in attitude towards older people living at home longer. There are clear differences in ownership of impact from the above examples but to measure one and not the other (often the indirect) would be a disservice to the impact your organisation is influencing.
No time like the present!
So lesson 1 from the Accelerator was crystal clear. Whether it’s project planning, technology development or social impact, the importance of selecting SMART metrics and committing to consistent measurement can prove crucial to telling the story of your organisation’s success.
By Eoghan Ryan, THINKTECH Fund Manager