Why must brands go beyond output reporting?
If you go to a bakery and order a customized wedding anniversary cake for your parents, what would be the outcome here? The cake? Wrong! The impact the cake has on them, their level of happiness and surprise is the outcome while getting the cake will be the output.
In all possibilities, the planned outcome of getting a customized cake and throwing a surprise party was to make the couple feel special and happy but the cake turned out bad. Here, the outcome, despite carrying out the activities (outputs) in the best capacity, couldn’t be aligned with what was expected. The moral of the story? This is precisely why companies shouldn’t stop at output reporting and must go beyond it. Learn more about the differences between impact, output, and outcome.
We all plan for things and work for them but the outcome can swing in any direction, this is why stopping at outputs is half the journey traveled and does not provide a clearer picture. Not all goals are realized, not all efforts lead to fruition. Outcome mapping and reporting, therefore, become extremely important to revisit your impact strategy and make necessary amends to achieve the desired result. For better understanding let’s refer to another example.
An NGO takes up the project of developing public spaces around West Java. Some of the possible outputs include constructing an open gym, green zones, and public urinals in the area. However, the completion of the project and achieving all the outputs would not be the end story. There could be a million ways in which the project and the associated construction affect the residents and stakeholders. While residents benefited from using the open gyms, the elderly reported paying fewer visits to the hospital as a result of better health. On the flip side, there was also an upswing in business activities and visitors to the area which resulted in more pollution — an unintended, unexpected outcome.
Therefore, going beyond output reporting and measuring outcomes while also actively engaging with various stakeholders is imperative for organizations for effective and robust impact creation.
Outputs can lead to multiple outcomes. There will be intended or expected outcomes, as well as unintended ones that can have both positive and negative impacts. Some outcomes are immediately visible while others may begin to surface at a later stage. All of this, in its utmost entirety, must be mapped, measured and communicated with the world. It is the only way, and the right way, an organization can truly position itself as an impact leader and expect to be taken seriously by investors, stakeholders.
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