Obsessive Compulsive Metric Disorder

While my writings in the past have strongly pushed for the establishment of better metrics in quantifying social impact, the reliance on such metrics is not immune to negative outcomes. One such negative outcome is when social investors become so concerned with their own metrics that they lose sight of the larger picture — the common goal to provide as much of a difference as possible. The danger of this materialized for writer Kevin Jones of Xigi.net during a conversation he had with an investor at the Skoll World Forum.

The worst news from the Skoll World Forum was from another investor. They were trying to co-invest with a venture philanthropy fund, but found two significant barriers; one that fund does not co-invest, nor release its due diligence reports to even other like-minded institutional funders.

Worse was that this fund had made the social enterprise sign an exclusive deal; they would not take funding from another fund. The reason, it seems, is metrics run amok; they only way to make sure they can measure their impact is to try to restrict other impacts on the enterprises. So less good gets done, less growth of the mission and the company happens in the name of being able to accurately measure and report.

Metrics are important, but they are only as good as the issue they hope to measure. Once the metrics reach a point of control over the analysis where decisions are made solely to feed those metrics, it forms a vicious cycle where organizations become more obsessed with these abstract values than the focusing on actually making a difference.


Remote Blogging: Skoll World Forum 2008 — Review of Panel on Corporate Partnerships

The Strategic Partnerships Between Multinational Corporations and Social Entrepreneurs used the metaphor “dancing with elephants” as the overarching theme for discussion. SustainAbility’ s Maggie Brenneke also described the concept of “intrapreneurs,” which are individuals within established companies thinking and acting entrepreneurially.  While somewhat obvious, the panel primarily focused on the importance of maintaining relationships between the social venture and the company and also the need to have constant and clear communication over each parties’ goals. (Source: Socialedge)

Remote Blogging: Skoll World Forum 2008 — Points of Interest from Opening Plenary

  • Phil Hope, the Minister of the Third Sector in the UK spoke about the creating of a social stock exchange and its ability to promote transparency in the global social entrepreneurship field.
  • Karen Tse, of International Bridges to Justice spoke about the cross cultural challenges associated with being a social entrepreneur across borders, but also stressed that certain values should be promoted universally.
  • Lord Anthony Giddens spoke about the world’s continued inaction on climate change and tried to come up with reasons and solutions for the lack of proactive measures taken by the global community.

Sources: Acumen FundSocialedge

2008 Skoll World Forum Starts Today

This looks like to be a very exciting event, and while it is too late to attend in person, Skoll has hired the help of livebloggers for the entirety of the conference. Go here for live updates. ThinkChange India will be following closely via the same feeds and will be providing periodic updates over what is being said during the conference, if you want a more concise recap of the events.

To make organization easier, we will create a temporary category labeled as SWF2008 so that you can quickly and easily head to it.