ICB’s Iterative Development

What we Learned from the First Cohort and How we Improve for the Second Cohort

IDCC’s Impact Capacity Building (ICB) Program is a collaborative and iterative process to co-create impact measurement and management (IMM) technologies and solutions with ten leading impact intermediaries in Hong Kong. Since Q3 2020, we kickstarted the first cohort of ICB with four of the intermediary organizations (i.e. Dream Impact, Good Seed, HKCSS SEBC, and Gravity Capital Partners) and by facilitating a series of design thinking workshops, we have built capacity in data literacy and created a digital transformation roadmap collectively. Through this process, we have also learned a lot from the participants as we were given constructive feedback on both our software (technology) and our humanware (workshop content). As the first cohort of ICB was completed in Q1 2021, we have some time to revisit our ICB program and look into what we have learned from our first cohort so that we can do better in our second. We have indeed made a few changes to improve and streamline our workshop so that the ICB program can respond more precisely to the needs of our intermediary members and their social purpose organizations (SPOs). In this following post, we will share with you three major aspects that we have revised for the second cohort:

One of the main goals of ICB is to align the IMM approaches of intermediaries and bring them onto the same page of impact measurement. However there is no one-fits-all IMM standard and capacity building approach. Therefore, workshops have to be customized in terms of content, length, and methods based on the requirements, needs, and capacity of each intermediary. During the first cohort, the participants’ level of impact capacity and their areas of needs were gradually revealed after the completion of each session. At the end of all the sessions, we have learned that there was a large variation in the level of impact readiness among our intermediary organizations where each of them had their own areas of strength and weakness, which is absolutely something we wish we could have known from early on in the program. For example, while some intermediaries had a clear business goal and strategies, they did not have a set of clearly defined metrics to measure their achievements over time.

To better customize our workshops for the second cohort and spend our time and energy in a more cost effective way, we have created an impact readiness assessment framework for ICB. This framework will enable us to understand the impact readiness of the intermediaries (i.e. to strive for impact for themselves and their SPOs) in the beginning so we can adjust the focus, content, and length of the following workshops. And by focusing on addressing weaknesses and better leverage strengths, we can build impact capacity with our intermediaries more effectively. This assessment framework covers the following three dimensions that are fundamental to them being “impact ready”:

Figure 1. IDCC’s Impact Readiness Assessment Framework

Moreover, after conducting exercises and brainstorm sessions to discuss the above together, we will feedback our analysis, advice and short- to mid-term solutions to the intermediaries in a precise assessment report format. The intermediaries could then share it internally within the team or take the report as a reference to further help their SPOs to understand their impact readiness and how to support them in advancing their IMM.

2. Engage SPOs during the workshops

While ICB’s primary target is the ten leading intermediaries, we have learned that we could engage intermediaries’ respective SPOs in the ICB workshops and onboard them on our IDCC platform early on. Also, we have heard back from the first cohort intermediaries that they welcome IDCC to offer more support to them in leading their SPOs through their capacity building and digital transformation process.

It was unfortunate that due to the unstable covid-19 situation during the first cohort, we were only able to hold all workshops online and did not have the chance to conduct any community events to onboard SPOs. Yet with the current situation becoming more stable, we are now able to respond to this particular need of our intermediaries by co-hosting two full day workshops (face-to-face) with them to onboard their SPOs. By doing so, we are empowering intermediaries in taking decentralized and distributed leadership in enabling SPOs to do better IMM. At the same time, the workshops also present a great opportunity for IDCC to gather feedback from end users so that we can more directly achieve crowdsourcing knowledge from the bottom-up.

Figure 2. Interacting with our workshop participants face to face (first time since the pandemic started) and sharing some special bonding moments

Last but not least, thanks to ixo — our technology partner’s effort in responding to our unique technological requirements, engaging SPOs at the earlier stage in this second cohort is now more feasible as the current IDCC platform has become more capable in performing IMM functions and more user-friendly to the frontline workers and end-beneficiaries in the community.

3. Revamping the syllabus

For the second cohort, we have redirected the focus of our syllabus as we found ourselves spending much more time on certain topics than some others during the first cohort. For example, we have come to learn that creating a ToC could be complex at the intermediary level and advancing a ToC would require a lot of time, thoughts, and trials. As such, the fact that there was still much room for improving ToCs at the end of our first cohort tells us that we could start working on ToCs in module 2 and advance it together throughout the rest of the modules during the second cohort. This will then give us time to revisit their ToCs later in every session so that by the end of the ICB program, the ToCs can be in the best form possible and intermediaries would also learn to apply this iterative process in supporting their SPOs to formulate their ToC, which is fundamental to their project development, operation, and IMM.

Also, we have made the syllabus more concise by taking certain topics away from the original syllabus that are more suitable to be discussed among all intermediary members. For example, we have taken out the sessions about blockchain for impact and data charter from the syllabus and instead these have become some themes for discussion during the upcoming consortium round table discussion.

After revamping, the syllabus now covers seven themes in the following modules:

Module 0: Getting Ready — Impact Readiness Assessment, in which we understand the intermediary’s impact readiness, their objectives and requirements of doing IMM; their strengths to leverage and weak spots to improve.

Module 1: Impact Management Standards — In this module we introduced the logic of Impact measurement and management from IDCC technology infrastructural design by demonstrating key features of IMM workflow on IDCC technology platform

Module 2: Let’s Do Good — Defining success and how to measure it. In this module we discussed Theory of change with the intermediary to understand their impact goals and how they want to achieve and monitor them.

Module 3: Digital Transformation — in this module we digitize the intermediary’s impact measurement and management (IMM) for their impact strategy and portfolio management enhancement

Module 4: Form Your Community — in this module we help intermediary to onboard their SPOs onto IDCC platform and support intermediary to adopt the knowledge and digital tools from previous modules to digitize IMM of their projects

Module 5: Value Creation Pilot — in this module we wish to pilot test the defined IMM workflow with SPOs to complete the process of collecting, validating data and communicating impact with all stakeholders

Module 6: Imagine beyond IMM — in this last module we review our impact journey together and propose digital transformation roadmap for the intermediary to think beyond ICB and be part of the digitized social finance future

In summary, this updated version of the ICB program for our second cohort attests to the collaborative and iterative process that is highly valued by IDCC. As we are now working through the second cohort, we are actively listening and responding attentively to the voices of our members. Throughout this journey, we all contribute to the co-creation of the IDCC platform that unlocks exponential growth across the impact sector in Hong Kong.

For more details on our updated version of ICB, please visit https://idcc.hk/icb

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