Category Archives: Impact Assessment

Why You Need to Define Your “Other 90%”


It was a muggy summer day in New York City. After traversing through the meandering paths in Central Park, I quickly crossed the bustling Museum Mile to enter Cooper Hewitt’s smaller but equally green garden exhibit on “Design for the Other 90%.” With roots in a rural, agricultural-centered California town, the Day Labor Station caught my attention immediately. Architecturally it was beautiful and well designed. The intricate construction details, solar panel roof, and integrated toilet made for a completely off-the-grid design that any architect would be proud of. Then I noticed the bright blue Q Drum for transporting water and then the small LifeStraw to purify water. I was captivated by these products and structures that were addressing things I take for granted.Continue Reading

The First Step to Measure Impact


“Measure impact.” The mantra for 2014 is penetrating all industries—for profit, non-profit, and the emerging social enterprise—and is demanding to define and display outcomes in both qualitative and quantitative forms. Search for ‘measure impact’ on Google and you will be hit with an overwhelming 385,000,000 results.

As I wrote a few weeks ago here, measuring and sharing impact is crucial for design organizations with social, environmental, and economic goals—even if it’s hard to do. As SROI Network CEO Jeremy Nicholls wrote in this Guardian article as a rebuttal to social investment firm Panahpur CEO James Perry’s article,

Just because measuring social impact is hard to do, this doesn’t mean we should give up.

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How Might We Integrate Measurement into the Realm of Social Impact Design?

Art Heart Pearl Street

Designers have all the best intentions when creating a product, space, or experience. When beginning a new project or initiative, I intend to dedicate my utmost time, energy, ideas, and input to get the best positive outcome. I’m sure you do too. But how do we know when we’ve done a good job? How do we know when we’ve achieved the positive experience or change that we set out to make?

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