Find us on Facebook Find us on LinkedIn Follow us on Twitter Subscribe to our YouTube channel

Measuring impact beyond the bottom line - the Business School lights up Vivid festival of ideas with StrategicFrame

15 May 2013

By any measure, Sydney's annual Vivid festival is a spectacular world class light show and the hundreds of thousands of people who will flock to the city to enjoy the event this year will have their lives enriched by the experience.

But beyond their ability to dazzle, the lights of Vivid also serve as a metaphor for the ideas that are shared, considered, debated and enhanced during the festival.

According to organisers, the parallel Vivid Ideas festival is about "turning inspiration into action" within Sydney's vibrant creative sector. Of course, turning inspiration into action is one thing; measuring the impact of that action, particularly where multiple stakeholders are concerned, is quite another.

For this reason, the Vivid Ideas festival will this year include a University of Sydney Business School workshop on the 'StrategicFrame', a pragmatic approach to providing creative as well as commercial and not for profit organisations with a framework for measuring and improving an enterprise's performance and impact.

"Put simply, attempts to measure social impact and understand social value creation frequently fail," said the Business School's Dr Richard Seymour. "This may be because many approaches have resulted in complex concepts, esoteric frameworks or inappropriate consistency forced upon what is inevitably a complex picture."

"It may also be because many approaches are neither utilised nor respected by many of the social enterprises and managers they aim to help or they may also fail because they forget the humanity of the very beneficiaries they are attempting to 'measure'."

"StrategicFrame helps to capture the living dynamic nature of an enterprise and its impacts. Rather than being a one off activity, it is an ongoing approach to assist an organisation to achieve its mission and objectives," said Dr Seymour. "The framework guides organisations by working through four phases: understanding and appreciating; measuring and recording; reporting and sharing; and adjusting and reflecting. Each of these phases are organised by six key elements of focus."

"The StrategicFrame is important as it brings the locus of activity back to the organisation, providing questions that should be asked by the organisation rather directives that are distant from the organisation's purpose or management." added Jarrod Ormiston, a researcher working with on the StrategicFrame project.

The Innovation & Entrepreneurship Research Group at The University of Sydney Business School has been working with over a dozen organisations in the creative industries, indigenous business, social enterprise, as well as commercial ventures.

The Group now has a rich case bank of experience to share, with our workshop at Vivid a key part of that showcasing. Anne Dickson, of the Business School, has been conducting multiple research workshops in the creative industries as part of the initiative, and will lead a session at the Vivid festival.

The Federal Government, through the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, DEEWR and the Productivity Commission, has shown interest in StrategicFrame as a means of measuring its impact on stakeholders nationwide. Much of the research has been funded by SEFA (Social Enterprise Finance Australia) and the Northern Territory Government.

The Vivid Ideas StrategicFrame workshop will focus on the specific needs and circumstances of the creative sector, which now employs more than 150,000 in New South Wales.

It will include a panel discussion with representatives of organisations and enterprises that have used StrategicFrame to measure their impact. Of particular note will be the involvement of the Sienna Balakrishnan of Milk Crate Theatre and Robyn Ayres of Arts Law.

The workshop will be held at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Circular Quay, from 9.00 am to 12.00 noon on Tuesday 28th May. Tickets are available via the Vivid Sydney website.