Well, after my last journal on: Among criticism from entrepreneurs, USAID-funded Bamyan Media launches Egypt’s first Reality TV Show. Some of my colleges at Egypreneur, thought it’s close to how it would look like as an Impact Lab report, especially as I confessed a background they feared the report might be criticized based on, and they mentioned as we don’t get hired for doing these impact assessment projects anyway, I would use this personal publishing platform to introduce what impact assessment is and how we usually go about doing it.
Can be an educational bit until we have some serious work to do. I will just take the last post regarding the TV Show as an example.
Do you know that all these comments and negative feedback from entrepreneurs might be actually irrelevant? All these talks about the format and selection of entrepreneurs might not be the variables that matter at all?
Because scientifically speaking anything that you design, you design it to achieve a specific output/goal/impact, right? In order to graduate this output, you have lots of variables or ingredients to introduce as an input, correct? And you have a process to go through to get this output.
Then anything that human designs can be analyzed into:
Input >> Process > Output
It’s like your Mama’s Pizza. The delicious or awkward Pizza your mama prepares at different occasions, if your Mama decides to impress you with your own favorite type of Pizza, that is the taste you had is the output, the result, the impact..
Which might actually change and you might not like it at some point but it remains alright…
If your Mommy’s goal/output changes from making you, your own favorite type of Pizza into hosting a party with 50 of your friends, and there is not enough input, make it ingredients, budget, time, helping hands for diversity, your Mama will make a standard Pizza, you might not really like it, but your Mama actually did a great job if you properly assess the feedback of the majority of those who were intended to like the Pizza.
If your friends go crazy about your Mama’s Pizza, you might suggest to her to start a Pizza shop, actually, If I were you I would suggest to handle the business end, communication, marketing/branding, sales and she just need to create this awesome Pizza and of course you get like 60% stake in the company, your Mama is too kind I know, anyway…
If your Mama is so confident about her ability to visualize the best Pizza that people would want to come to her shop for (Output) and she’s a genius at picking the right ingredients (Input) to make this specific output, and she is so skilled at handling the (Process) of turning the well selected input into a delicious output. Please, give me a call, I can offer you a deadly ecommerce platform to boost sales and I want want stock in your Mama’s Pizza Shop thingy.
This simple analogy applies to anything you use, the car you drive, the kitchen machine, the robots, all in all are creations that achieves a specific output once they are given a specific input and they are designed in a way to transfer this input into output.
If you studied engineering like me, you probably have suffered while studying from Modern Control Engineering for Ogata and was forced into analyzing complex systems and expressing them with complex charts and mathematical equations. Oh my lord!
So, what does this has to do with Impact Assessment?
Impact Assessment is the same thing, while assessing impact, you don’t just collect opinions of random people and say it worked or not based on that. Rather you follow a scientific way in defining the desired output, the scope of your study, the most important variables in the study and then you gather as much data as needed, analyze and present this data in relation to these variables in a way that makes sense.
The function of an impact assessment by then is to define and study the most important variables in any operation that interferes in shaping the desired output, taking into consideration the objective and scope of the study upon which these variables are defined.
If you want to think proactively by then an R&D unit like the Impact Lab kitchen, can experiment with different variations of these variables until it reaches the secret sauce that works, that would make your Mama’s Pizza Shop not just break even but go IPO, if the operation is being consistently managed.
Away from this science and engineering models to assess impact, why would you need to do that with projects, programs, events and products targeting entrepreneurs?
The way Impact Lab came about is very much related to the famous Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Mapping Project, we wanted to study what’s being done to serve entrepreneurs and how to make it better and to make this data freely available for anyone to use it, not just as individual cases but to build the intellectual capacity and assets that would help in designing massively successful activities and accordingly raise the ROI of everyone working on helping entrepreneurs.
That’s basic R&D stuff, nothing fancy.
But anyway, what are the steps to perform an impact assessment?
Actually it varies whether you’re creating something from the scratch and accordingly still need to figure out the input and design the process, or it’s already done when you can just choose a scope of study and analyze known variables.
By then to do impact assessment for something that’s already done, you’ll need to:
- Define the objective/desired output
- Define the input/givens
- Define the process
- Define the scope of study and only pick variables related to this scope
- Research data related to each variable
- Objectively study variables and their relationship to shaping the output
- Extract report with findings and recommendations
So, if we want to do an objective impact assessment for a Reality TV Show for entrepreneurs, we need to go through the following process. Objectivity doesn’t lie, it actually smells if you’re deceiving in data gathering, no one will take you seriously, the only deceitful trick is to manipulate in defining the important variables, it takes a bit above average critical thinkers to figure this out.
And actually that’s why I considered the Reality TV Show in question a failure, because it’s so obvious that regardless of having massive input in terms of funding, 2 years of preparations, popular TV network, massive ads campaign .etc it failed to achieve its objective in hitting large number of viewers who’ll then be inspired to start their business and rather only got viewership through the regular TV network audience, targeted advertising and even “some” of the “usual” community interested in the topic.
Which objectively means that Bamyan Media has, so far, failed in achieving its objective of mainstreaming entrepreneurship through the Reality TV Show format it owned and launched through El Mashrou3.
Well, anyway, that’s getting lengthy, let’s try to define scope and variables in another day…