Demonstrating Value Blog

February 3, 2014

James Clear, in an article in Entrepreneurship magazine "Forget Setting Goals. Focus on this Instead," argues for focusing measurement on your systems instead of goals.  For instance, if your goal is to build a million dollar business, your system is your sales and marketing process. Why focus on systems? Goal tracking can be demoralising and reduces what you make of present in face of a future possibility.  Focusing on systems means that you build good habits that help you stick to the process.   (Read more: ...

January 30, 2014
My name is Garth Yule, and I was responsible for this blog for about a year while Bryn was on parental leave. It is my pleasure to update you on where I’ve been since leaving my post with the Demonstrating Value program almost exactly one year ago - the short version is that I took a year of leave for arrival of my second child (there must be something in the water around this office!) and have been doing a lot of late nights and drinking from bottles, but not in the fun nightclubbing way. Now that I am back to work I am excited to announce that I am working with the Demonstrating Value tools and framework again, but this time from the position of Engagement Manager with Junxion Strategy, a consulting company that is a frequent collaborator and...
January 28, 2014

One day last December my husband and I went on a 24 hour getaway to the Kananaskis Resort in the rocky mountains, with our toddler happily looked after by his grandparents back in Calgary.


This was our first little getaway so we stretched out adult time as much as possible - first a drink and appetizer at the Bighorn Lounge, then a fancy dinner at Grappa followed dessert through room service. We had  breakfast and take out lunch for x-country skiing at still another two restaurants at this Delta Hotels resort.


Needless to say it was a great trip. The reason why I'm sharing it here is that within days I received an e-mail request to fill a survey asking for customer feedback.  Nothing unusual. But what was interesting was that my survey input was quickly followed...

December 18, 2013

I recently discovered the meaning to life in a New York Times opinion piece: ‘A Formula for Happiness’.    Well not totally, but I now have some pretty cool insights.   What is fascinating is that the author never proposes a mathematical formula (that I would love to see), but he brings up evidence on different determinants of happiness and how they interrelate. I was struck at how useful it was to look at such a BIG question in this way even if we can’t actually can’t articulate the math. Happiness is big, complex and messy. Business, programs and other pursuits are often pretty big, complex and messy too. Can we apply more ‘formula-thinking’ into how we measure success in business and programs, even if we never come...

November 27, 2013

Last weekend I started my  Christmas shopping at the River Market in New Westminster.  I bought some lovely gifts at a  'studio shop' that sells artisanal and social enterprise work. It got me thinking about the relative power of the dollars I am spending for Christmas that can be directed to further benefit my local community. Thanks to LOCO BC, I can do more than just think.   They  comissioned a compelling study of the benefits of local spending: 


  • A 1% increase in spending at local businesses creates 3100 jobs and $94 million in annual wages ...
November 20, 2013

I’ve been following examples of shared measurement with great interest. This term refers to the practice of building a better foundation of data on community outcomes that can serve the needs multiple organizations. I've mainly heard about projects led by foundations and by grass root initiatives in education, public health and community economic development.  I’ve recently realized though that there are also some great examples of shared data initiatives based at Canadian universities, including CIEEDAC (, which has been doing great work improving the quality of energy and emissions data in industry.


CIEEDAC is a mouthful of an acronym that stands for the Canadian Industrial Energy End-Use and Data Analysis Centre, a non-profit...

October 23, 2013

We've just added a new guide that presents approaches to monitoring and assessing the social impacts of affordable housing. This will be of interest for organizations that seek to maintain or increase the availability of affordable housing stock, provide outreach to connect people with services and housing, increase the affordability of housing (e.g. rent subsidies, mortgages) and that...

October 16, 2013

In the era of greater data accessibility and new tools, many people and organizations are finding fascinating ways to use data to educate, convince and make connections about the social and environmental challenges of our time.  Here are 10 interesting tools and visualizations that I've come across that give a sense of the scope and range of the data visualization world out there. 

  1. Walkability Index:
  2. Rich Block, Poor Blocks:
  3. Pay Equity:
  4. US Prison Population:
October 15, 2013

With its singular history of rugged collective-individualism, Calgary played host to the Social Enterprise World Forum as over a thousand people descended to share, connect and advance social enterprise world-wide during the first week of October. With good cheer and a rodeo welcome, organizers in Calgary did an awesome job of creating the space and program to celebrate our success and critically examine how we can take social enterprise to the next level.  I was privileged to be an invited speaker on the topic of measuring social impact. Here are some of my reflections from the session. 


Given that the session took place during the last non-plenary timeslot on the last day, I was pretty impressed to see a packed room for the session.  This topic came up in many of the preceding sessions and I think it is a significant...

October 9, 2013

Love it or hate it, spreadsheets are the number one data tracking tool in many community-based organizations. Unless you are, or have a spreadsheet geek on staff, most of us mainly learn enough to get by - perhaps a few functions, the basics of doing formulas, possibly graphs.  For most people, entering and tracking data in  spreadsheets is easy, but analyzing can be painful.  Here is my wisdom learned from decades of spreadsheeting to make your spreadsheet going a bit easier.


Pretend you're somebody else. The seemingly inconsequential spreadsheet file that you’ve started may end up being a key file that is added on to, and used for years by multiple people, long after you’ve left the organization.   Take the extra five minutes to imagine you are somebody else looking at it...