Mapping the Ripple Effect
Measuring the impact of community led change is a constant challenge for those of us working in organisations that are seeking to grow community capacity rather than ‘do to’ communities.
Within more traditional project-based approaches, its often easier to predefine the outcomes at the start of the project and deliver on those. However, in taking a community building approach, our role is to enable the capacity of others, so they own the change they want to see. In doing so citizens will also often inspire other friends and neighbours to get involved, which leads to many unintended outcomes. This results in a ripple effect.
To capture this process and the outcomes that emerge from community driven development, the Gloucester Community Building Collective is working with Dr James Noble from the University of Bristol and the team at We Can Move to assess the impact of community building.
James explained why its critical that organisations engaged in community building need different ways of evaluating impact. Put simply ‘Ripple Effect Mapping’ offers a way of understanding the wider, intended and unintended, impacts of a project or programme over time. This is important as is demonstrates the catalytic role that organisations play in enabling citizens and achieving social change https://www.youtube.com/embed/tq3A-ETnZFU?wmode=opaque&enablejsapi=1
The process works by initially mapping your intended course of action, but over time also mapping what actually happened and what unintended outcomes occurred.
The mapping process often starts off with something like this…
But it ends up like this
Obviously, our hand written versions are somewhat messier! But the information can be transferred using software called Vensim https://vensim.com/vensim-software/
From this mapping process, you can identify the critical catalytic actions that led to the outcomes achieved, irrespective of whether you instigated them or not. It also allows you to identify key themes that could be a focus for systems change.
Gloucester Community Building Collective will be using this approach understand the impact of community building across Gloucester. We hope to share more about the process and the outcomes as we engage in this approach.
Credit: Dr James Noble, NIHR, university of Bristol
We Can Move, Active Gloucestershire