At the Centre for Youth Impact, we're aiming to build a movement of youth sector organisations. Our aim is that individuals in those organisations will not only become more confident and skilled practitioner/researchers and informed consumers of research and research services, but also start shaping the impact and evidence 'agenda' themselves.
We've been learning lots about building movements, and 'losing control' is a common theme.
It raises some interesting questions when dealing with evidence and impact. What do we do when others in our movement look at the same issue and see a different solution - or even a different problem? How does handing over control interact with ideas such as robustness and methodological rigour? What are the implications for 'hierarchies of evidence' when we believe practitioners should play a role in defining what meaningful evidence looks like for them?
We're wrestling with the questions of who gets to decide what good looks like in provision for young people, and learning to balance perspectives and facilitate coherence emerging from the mass of views that we encounter. It is taking some time but feels a critical part of the culture change around evidence and impact that we think is needed.
Instead of aiming for control over what happens next, we're creating partnerships - with our network leads, evidence experts, and youth sector practitioners and leaders. By bringing people together we can't, as individuals, expect to decide what's next for impact measurement, or be led by pre-existing views on what solutions will look like. But we have an opportunity to genuinely start understanding the problem and building answers from there.
Pippa Knott is writing a series of guest blogs for Renaisi about impact measurement in the youth sector on behalf of the Centre For Youth Impact. For more information about the Centre, visit www.youthimpact.uk or contact Pippa on firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more about their regional and thematic practitioner networks.
Rather than asking, “How can I get all these people to do what I want them to?” savvy leaders begin to ask, “How can I help all these people do what they want to do?”