process guide
This guide introduces the basics of impact thinking—a method of creating products that change the world.
We create this guide for mission-driven teams, for people who build their organizations not only to earn money, but also to make really meaningful things and significant changes in the world. Our goal is to make the creation of world-changing products available to every team on earth.

Our approach to impact thinking* is a result of compiling and reimagining modern knowledge, approaches and tools for designing products and processes, ideas of social and environmental responsibility, and latest discoveries in management and economy.

*Impact activities often go hand in hand with responsibility and sustainability. Read our article about differences between them. The main task of impact activity is to change the system that the team is working with.
Six steps of impact-process
Changing the world sounds epic. For many, as something impossible. These six steps will show you a system that you can follow to make changing the world your inspiring daily business.
Defining a problem
What is going on? What we don't like? What are the root causes? What are the bad consequences? How do we want it to be? Who are involved and what are their visions and interests?
Setting a goal
Where do we want to get? What is an optimal method and why? How do we know we have succeeded? When can we stop? What is the ultimate goal?
Designing an impact
What process should we build to start shifting. Whose life will change and how will they feel it? How will we measure a progress towards? Who is interested in a change and would love to join? What can they bring to a process? How can we facilitate their participation?
Funding the changes
Who and how will benefit from a shift? How can we measure it? How can we borrow a part of those benefits in future to make a change today?
Measuring and managing the process
How big is the problem? Does it evolve? What are the critical values and conditions? What changes are irreversible? How rapid do we affect? Do we have enough resources? What and how will we measure to see desired changes? How do we know we have reliable data?
Communicating the aspirations and achievements
Who is interested in knowing what we do? Why are they and what they wish to know? What is the best way to provide that information? How to get feedback from them?
1. Defining a problem
The more we know about the problem, the more accurate, effective and cheap the solution will be.
Every specific problem is always a part of a bigger system and a longer story. And every problem is always a solution for someone else's another problem.
    When we plan any change, the first part is to define a current state. Where we are and what we want to change?

    The most common mistake here is to start acting without enough understanding of the situation. This often leads to the common failures: infinite fighting with the consequences, strengthening the problem instead of defeating it, creating a new problem or just moving one to a new place, facing an unexpected resistance from other people.

    To define a problem properly we should answer the following questions:

    • What is going on, and why do we think it's a problem?
    • Who is experiencing a problem and how? How many of them, and how can we define and describe that group?
    • Do they recognize a problem (or who else recognized it) and how? How did they try to solve it?
    • What are the root causes of a problem?
    • What are the bad consequences?
    • What causes the problem to reproduce and not be resolved?
    • Who are involved and what are their perspectives and interests?
    • How did the problem appear and when (this often means: who created it and why)? And do those reasons still exist?
    • How big and severe is a problem? What numbers and estimates do we have?
    Five whys—the great method to find a root cause of a problem
    Click to read more or see the full article on Wikipedia
    Five whys (or 5 whys) is an iterative interrogative technique used to explore the cause-and-effect relationships underlying a particular problem.[1] The primary goal of the technique is to determine the root cause of a defect or problem by repeating the question "Why?". Each answer forms the basis of the next question. The "five" in the name derives from an anecdotal observation on the number of iterations needed to resolve the problem.

    Not all problems have a single root cause. If one wishes to uncover multiple root causes, the method must be repeated asking a different sequence of questions each time.

    The method provides no hard and fast rules about what lines of questions to explore, or how long to continue the search for additional root causes. Thus, even when the method is closely followed, the outcome still depends upon the knowledge and persistence of the people involved.
    What is a good way to define a problem?

    As we have shown above, problems are often a quite complex matter. This why to speak or to write about a problem is much less effective. It's just hard to keep all these details in your head, it doesn't matter if you read an article or listen to a story (at the end of our Impact Chains article we compare the text and the scheme of Good and Bad factories impact).

    So good schematization or visualization of a problem will help to deal with a complexity of a problem, and communicate it to others easier.
    The best way to grasp a problem is to schematize or visualize it.
    Every problem is always a solution of someone else's another problem. Cutting the trees is a source of money for ones and a furniture and a lot of useful wooden things for others.
    For example, we build a product to fight deforestation.

    What is the actual problem? People cut too many trees for wood, negative natural conditions, artificial pollution, cleaning new agricultural areas? What is going on? What we plan to deal with?

    What we don't like about having less forests? Losing a nice place to walk, the source of breathing oxygen and clean air, breaking a habitat for animals, demolishing a defender against deserts spreading? In different places consequences may be different.

    Who will be affected if we stop cutting? Who benefits from the cutting today? How can we give them what they need and want without cutting the trees?

    How fast deforestation is going? How do we know? How do we measure this? What solutions exist today? Why are they not enough? What trends affect the problem? Do we have any critical levels or irreversible changes?

    What bad consequences do we already have? How big are they? What damage do they cause?

    All these questions are important to discover the problem. At the same time they create the complexity of the problem that makes it difficult to effectively discuss it.
    So, there are many-many questions we should ask and answer to say that we really have a problem well-defined and described. Without doing this, we can hardly say that we are capable of changing the world. Because then what exactly do we want to change?
    Talk to all who are involved if you want to really know what is going on, and to get support, not resistance. Interest map is one of the most important parts of a problem research.
    Different people see things in very different ways. And when it may be just a project for you, for some of them it will be a major life change.

    Say, you want to stop cutting the trees, but for lumberjack families it is their only source of income, and they do not want to lose it. You try to force them to plant the trees back but who will pay them for that? You go to the wooden furniture buyers, but they do not know anything about the problem, until you show the cost of each purchase.

    Identifying all stakeholders and connecting them together helps build long-term, mutually beneficial relationships that truly change the lives of all of them for the better.
    Of course, this is an unacceptable simplification of the problem of deforestation. So it is your goal now to discover it enough to be able to answer all those questions above. Wikipedia page about deforestation is a good place to start.
    2. Setting a goal [… work in progress]
    A goal without numbers is just a slogan.
    A goal of numbers alone is meaningless.
    Better to miss a great goal than to hit a minor one.
    We keep working on this manual. If you are interested in it, willing to join, want to use it within your team, want to be notified when we release next chapter, wish to leave some feedback or just cheer us up, welcome to our Facebook page.

    Andy Done
    Founder of Impactful
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