Measuring your Business!

What?  Being that we discussed the role measurement and metrics in change initiatives this week, I thought it was appropriate to discuss a recent article I found on the Huffington Post.  The article by Dov Seidman was entitled Measuring How We Do Business.  The article discusses the importance of measurement across industries.    

So what?  This article is unique in that it reflects on current measurements of “how much” but argues these type of measurements do not take into account the “values, behavior and culture” that are the hard currency of the 21st century business.  The article ends by concluding that stakeholders and customers want new measures related sustainability and relationships with suppliers.   

Now what?  The importance of data collection and analysis should be a major component of any change proposal or business for that matter.  This data can enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the change processes and businesses.  The change in focus on metrics is customer and stakeholder driven.  This is a perfect example of Cawsey’s conclusion that metrics used for measurement should be developed jointly with the individuals with whom the measures will be used. 


New Solutions to Global Problems

What? A recent article on the Huffington Post by Sally Osberg provided concrete examples related to several points we have discussed and learned about in this class.  The gist of the article is that upon visiting Africa a couple witnessed a breakdown in the health care system.  Despite the fact that these countries had vaccines citizens did not have access because of unreliable transportation.

So What?  Upon returning from Africa this couple became what Goldsmith would call “social entrepreneurs” – they even mortgaged their house to fund their new project.  They realized people did not have access to the medicine because the vehicles used to transport the medicine from clinic to clinic were not reliable or in some cases not in working order at all.  This couple felt so strongly about their solution because they studied the system and solicited input from everyone involved.  This included the patients, care givers, funders, medicine transporters, mechanics, and part suppliers.  They found that no infrastructure existed to maintain, repair or address the worn out and broken down vehicles used to transport medicine. 

Now What?  These social entrepreneurs founded a program called “Riders for Health” that is now used to keep delivery vehicles in working order.  By bringing all of the stakeholders together they were able to develop the infrastructure needed to keep the clinics operating in a reliable manner.  This approach provided a “reliable, scalable vehicle-maintenance system for health care delivery.”  This couple and their riders for health project brought about large-scale change by disrupting conventional wisdom and mobilizing a broad range of actors to deliver results.  This story provides insight into successful change agents and their process.  My favorite part of the story was a quote from the couple who stated “disruption, discipline, and drive are defining characteristics of social entrepreneurship.”

Non-Profit Helps Job Seekers Who Face Barriers

What?  A recent Huffington Post article by Joe Van Brussell describes how at-risk youth, the physically disabled, vImageeterans and anyone else struggling to establish independence and self-sufficiency is being served by a Los Angeles non-profit.  The non-profit is Jewish Vocational Services and the assistance they offer includes employment services, education and training, counseling and psychological assistance.

So what? This non-profit exemplifies the benefits of collapsing the silos in which most employment services operate.  They were able to take on the risk of providing employment opportunities to these individuals because they took a holistic approach that integrates intensive case management with focused training programs to not only assist with job acquisition, but also with job performance and retention.  In other words, they didn’t provide a service and send the individuals on their way with a “good luck” in the workforce attitude – they actually provided support throughout the training, application, and interview process as well as during the employee’s tenure.   

Now what?  As we have read, savvy change leaders see opportunity where others see risk in a new approach.  The new holistic approach by this non-profit has worked and delivered results.  For example, in 2012, JVS enrolled 139 people in the BankWork$ program, which prepares participants for positions as bank tellers. Of those 139, 105 graduated and 80 were placed in jobs at banks. This story is a good example of the how the non-profit understood the paradigm it wished to change.  This change required a shift in the way services were provided.  The new holistic approach to employment services improved the likelihood that risks associated with the program were reduced because the provided support after the individual was gainfully employed.

Social Impact Bonds…Financing Government since 2013!

What?  A recent article by James Anderson explained an innovative funding mechanism for social services provided by the government.  This approach has been recently adopted in New York City where investment bank Goldman Sachs has financed services provided to young inmates.  These financial instruments are called social impact bonds and they are only paid by the government if the program provider or financer meets program targets.     

So what?  This method is a radical change in the way government services are financed because there are no upfront costs incurred by government.  Additionally, it promotes performance over entrenched interests and ineffective programs.  This is a prime example of increasing market competition advocated by Goldsmith.  This type of competition as Goldsmith eludes has improved the delivery of social services as well as boosts accountability for taxpayers.    

Now what?  Social impact bonds provide an opportunity for individuals at the grassroots level to be involved in the innovation process.  For example, funders are encouraging governments and citizens to work to together to develop novel solutions to their local problems.  These solutions can then be proposed to potential funders.  These funders could be investment banks, foundations, corporation or non-profits.  By applying private sectors expertise in meeting targets and outcomes, social impact bonds have the potential to change the way social services and programs operate in the future

Time to Rethink Non-Profits?

What? A recent TedTalk featured entrepreneur Dan Pallotta who founded two charities that raised over $300 million for breast cancer and HIV/AIDS.  These charities were not long lived and soon went out of business when corporate sponsors and funders heard through the media that 40% of the budget of these charities went into recruitment and customer service.   Pallotta commented that “the backlash came from our basic — and wrong — cultural understanding of charity.”    


So what? Pallotta suggests a rethinking of charities because he thinks the business world and the non-profit world are forced play by different rule books.  He proposes 5 reasons why non-profits are handicapped: compensation, marketing, time, taking risk on new revenue ideas and capitalization on risk profit.  I would contend that these organizations need to be more flexible in their organizational structure to address these handicaps.  As we have read previously adaptors and innovators are equally equipped to change paradigms.  Working together to address these handicaps adaptors and innovators can provide synergy in solving these problems.


Now what? Revolutionary change is needed in the non-profit sector – the importance of innovators to look “outside the box” and propose new and novel solutions should be augmented with the adaptors ability to bring organizations back to homeostasis.


The dancing man can teach us a little about social change too!

The “dancing man” video has been extensively used in leader development trainings. The narration provided by Derek Sivers provides an account of how a single person can lead and encourage others to follow. As I read the texts this week I couldn’t help but be reminded of the dancing guy and the fact that he can provide a valuable lesson in social change too.

The dancing man is a classic example of social change. The movement takes place in front of our very eyes. I can’t help but quote my mom here because when she is trying her best to be nice uses the term “original thinker”. In my opinion, the dancing guy was definitely an “original thinker” and inspired others to join his movement. For example, he started dancing alone and nobody would join him. However, he had one individual buy-in to activities. After that first follower he had a smaller group that was willing to buy-in and he instantly had change champions that were willing to further his movement. By the end of the video nobody wanted to be sitting anymore – they all wanted to be dancing. This is an example of how the culture can be altered from its original form.

This example reinforces the notion that change agents cannot operate alone. If it weren’t for the followers the dancing man would have never accomplished his social movement and changed the culture. The message for me is that sometimes being an agent for change also requires us to be courageous followers and coalition builders.

Predicting the individual values of the social change model of leadership development: The role of college students’ leadership and involvement experiences

There is an increasing emphasis on leader and leadership development in higher education.  As evidence there are numerous mission statements that include leader development as part of the University’s mission or vision statement.  For example, the VT College of Agriculture and Life Sciences vision statement includes “building on the land-grant commitment of developing leaders.” This study by Haber and Komives (2009) seeks to examine to what extent co-curricular involvement, formal leadership roles, and leadership programs contributed to college students’ capacity for socially responsible leadership.  Socially responsible leadership is often framed using the social change model, which is widely used as a framework for leader development at the college level (Martin,Hevel, & Pascarella, 2012).   It is important to note that the social change model has three components: individual, group and societal values.  This study “focused specifically on the individual values of the social change model of leadership” (Haber & Komives, 2009, p. 2).  This study appeared in the Journal of Leadership Education and the sample (n=3,410) was randomly selected from undergraduates at a single institution.  The Multi-Institutional Study of Leadership  Development (MSL) questionnaire was utilized as the instrument.   This instrument includes demographic and pre-college variables, environmental and outcome variables and the SRLS-R2 which is a modified version of the SRLS used to measure the eight constructs of the social change model (National Clearinghouse for Leadership programs, 2006). 

               The authors use the social change model as the theoretical framework for the study.  It was my understanding that the social change model was a leadership development model, not a theory.  On the other hand, as a new student of leadership I would tend to agree with Dugan (2006): most leadership studies are not based on any leadership theory or framework (as cited in Haber & Komives, 2009).  Needless to say, I was happy to read a leadership article that utilized such a parsimonious model/theory.  For me, this theory exhibits parsimony because of its straightforward nature and the generally accepted instrument (SRLS) that is used to measure the constructs.  For example, these researchers used one component of the model i.e. individual values and examined environmental conditions that influence those values.  A critique with regard to the theoretical approach taken by the authors would be that they did not provide a substantive argument as to why they thought studying one component of the model without regard to the other components was feasible and would provide valid and reliable results.  For example, the model shows the three components are inextricably linked and that the values in one component build on the other.  Additionally, the theoretical framework that is utilized by researchers assumes that service is the primary means of developing leaders.  In theory, this sounds good, but in actuality there also several other “triggers” across the lifespan that could influence the development of leaders.  Another critique of the theory is that while it is a pragmatic and useful instructive model it does not provide significant application to the workplace and/or organizational development. 

               Most of the literature indicates that each component of the social change model interacts with the other to accomplish change.  With that in mind, my first recommendation to the authors would be to divulge the concomitant environmental variables associated with each of the other components of the social change model and how each may have affected the results of their study and hence contribute to a students’ capacity for socially responsible leadership.  For me, it doesn’t seem logical to use a theory that suggests all of the components work together and then utilize one component to measure how environmental variables affect that single component.  Secondly, the researchers used a “then-post” design and provided one citation to validate the use of this method.  This design utilized the MSL which only included one question per outcome (consciousness of self, congruence, commitment) versus the six to nine questions identified for each construct of the model.  The authors explained this method was effective for understanding the environmental variables under study.  My recommendation is to make a better case for the “then-post” design by using several citations that validated the use of this method especially in a leadership context.  For me, the logic of one question per outcome does not justify reporting environmental effects on those outcomes.  The authors provided reliability scores for the constructs measured by the SRLS-R2 instrument, but in order to improve the reliability of their “then-post” design they should have utilized Cronbach Alpha as measure to ensure skeptical people like me that the modified instrument with only one question per outcome was reliably  measuring the environmental variables. 

               Overall, I think this article has made me think deeply about research design in a leadership context.  The most valuable piece of information that I can utilize is the classification of leadership programs provided by the authors.  They divided these variables into three distinct categories based on the length and frequency of these programs.  By using their method of variable coding I could use ANOVA to compare the means of these different programs in my future research and test hypothesis related to different treatments.  As someone who is yet to decide on their dissertation topic, I found this article especially helpful to help me frame possible areas of inquiry.  In Extension there are numerous programs to develop adult leaders.  I think that it would be interesting to use the social change model as a framework to explore the personal development outcomes of adults that participate in these Extension programs. 


Martin, G. L., Hevel, M. S., & Pascarella, E. T. (2012). Do Fraternities and Sororities Enhance Socially Responsible Leadership?. Journal of Student Affairs Research and Practice, 49(3), 267-284.

 Dugan, J. P. (2006). Explorations using the social change model: Leadership development among college men and women. Journal of College Student Development, 47 (2), 217-225.

 NCLP. (2006). Socially responsible leadership scale-revised2. College Park, MD: National Clearinghouse for Leadership Programs.