How Measuring Social Impact Can Cause Inaction


Durham, the middle child of “The Triangle”. There is so much potential in Durham, some of it already realized and some of it yet to be discovered. Every business that tries to make a social impact is always hit with the most basic economic problem: unlimited wants and needs and limited resources to satisfy them.

Thus begins the Questions and Quandaries: How can we make the biggest impact with our limited resources? How do we differentiate between different types of impact? Does a diluted global reach have a stronger impact than a concentrated local effort? As someone who grew up in 5 or 6 countries around the world and is now working in a localized town/city in the USA, that last question is something I have struggled to answer. However, over time I have realized the answers to all these questions doesn’t matter.

The answer we are looking for is WHY it doesn’t matter. Due to my international upbringing, I always thought that making a global impact was much more influential than a local effort. After living in North Carolina for 5 years now, I have experienced both sides of the coin. At the end of the day, the important part of this equation is action. There comes a point where you have to stop debating/talking/discussing and just start doing. This may sound obvious, but any impact is better than none. It’s easy to get bogged down in the resource versus impact questions when the better reality is action.

Fortunately, I have seen the power that both types of impact can have. Sometimes a big influence to someone is exactly what that person needs to make a larger impact, and sometimes a small push to a couple of people has an equal impact. At the end of the day, asking questions, measuring impact, and evaluating where you can have the best influence can be good. However, if those very calculations are driving inaction, then you are going astray. No matter your philosophy and no matter the failure to impact you can always learn and reevaluate and try again next time.

Patrick Brunell is a Director at Vivisum Partners. Patrick specializes in market research moderation and project management. Email Patrick at patrick.brunell@vivisumpartners.com