BCHC\'s Approach to Community Change

BCHC's Approach to Community Change

Feb. 4, 2016 in Tools

BCHC Executive Director, Jodi Mucha reflects on the Innoweave coaching process that helped BCHC develop an Impact Statement and Theory of Change - organizational tools for making a bigger Impact.

BC Healthy Communities Society recently celebrated its tenth year of operation. We are proud of this milestone and have learned a lot over these past years.  To be quite honest, however, many of us still struggled at dinner parties when someone would ask ‘just what exactly do you do at your job?’ or felt ill equipped to give that short snappy elevator pitch when prompted with “what exactly does BCHC do?”

" The Innoweave Strategic Clarity Module has helped us all make sense of what we innately knew."

After grappling with this over the past decade we recently recognized the invaluable opportunity to participate in Innoweave’s Impact and Strategic Clarity Module. This training supported us to become really clear about who we are, what we do and how to articulate that. The benefits of this training were numerous.

What is Innoweave?

Innoweave is an initiative of The J.W. McConnell Family Foundation, in collaboration with Social Innovation Generation (SiG), thought leaders, academics, and partners from the private, public, and not-for-profit sectors.

"Our coach guided us and gave us homework every two weeks to help us reflect on our successes, explore our challenges and to stretch our thinking."

Innoweave's objective is to provide community sector leaders with new tools and processes to effect large-scale change. Through this collaboration, nine different modules are offered which help organizations to be more innovative and impactful. The Impact and Strategic Clarity Module is amongst those nine offered.

Impact and Strategic Clarity Module

In late 2014, BCHC began its journey with an Innoweave coach as part of the Impact and Strategic Clarity Module to clarify what impact we wanted to have, how to achieve it, and how to measure our success. Our goal was to create concise written descriptions of how we achieve impact in two documents called an Impact Statement and Theory of Change. 

We assembled a small team of senior staff and board members, agreed to meet on a weekly basis and then shared our work back with the rest of our team for input at different milestones along the way. We met, we brainstormed, we researched, we analyzed, we struggled. We struggled some more. 

We drafted numerous versions our Impact Statement and Theory of Change over a period of months. Being coached all along the way, we eventually completed our final draft documents.

Benefits we Experienced

How often do you think it would be nice to schedule time to think and plan? How often do you actually DO it? The first benefit of working through the Impact and Strategic Clarity process was that we had to commit to, and be disciplined about scheduling time to reflect, struggle and plan. 

Our coach guided us and gave us homework every two weeks to help us reflect on our successes, explore our challenges and to stretch our thinking. She asked us challenging questions that left us pondering for weeks. She brought clarity where we were sometimes foggy. Having the time and space to do this kind of thinking and creating was a highly beneficial process for us as a team and as an organization overall.

Another aspect of the process was conducting a program analysis and exploring our overarching assumptions. We then compared that to a comprehensive literature review and national scan to examine external evidence to clarify where to focus our efforts and how to measure success.

What We Learned

This process helped to confirm where we were filling a niche as well as where there were further opportunities to either focus or expand. 

Additionally, it helped us to identify where and when to say no—what to let go of and where we were not necessarily getting any traction.

We also conducted interviews with thought leaders and industry experts to explore their ideas about trends, areas of opportunity and if they thought we were filling a niche. This was an excellent opportunity to create a list of top notch individuals and organizations to contact and not only interview but plant a seed whereby there may be future links or connections built. 

We learned a lot of valuable information and also gained some exciting partnership development opportunities. We actually got to speak to those folks we look up to, who’s books we read and who we ‘creep’ on social media to keep up with what they’re doing.

The Organizational Shift

Once our Impact Statement and Theory of Change were in final draft we noticed a shift in our organization. Everyone was now clear on the impact we are out to have, how we are going to do it and how to measure success. 

"It helped us to identify where we were not necessarily getting any traction."

It has provided each person on our staff team and our board of directors to more specifically connect their role and responsibilities on a day to day to the impact we are out to have at the provincial level and beyond. It has helped us all make sense of what we are doing—something we innately knew but hard trouble clearly articulating. 

We now have our finalize drafts complete and are utilizing our theory of change to inform our work from our internal team systems and structures to how we collaborate with partners and communities and how we design our program offerings. 

This work is something we are very passionate about and we are very grateful to have participated in this particular Innoweave Module. It will fuel us for the next ten years!

Stay tuned for more information on BCHC’s Theory of Change and associated learning mechanisms.

If you are curious about doing this work with Innoweave and have any questions about what it takes at the organizational level to undertake this process I would be happy to speak with you about our experience.

Contact: Jodi Mucha jodi[at]bchealthycommunities.ca

Credit: Jodi Mucha