Impact <-> Viability Matrix

May 12, 2023 | 
2 minute read

How many of you are doing programs or activities that you are not sure make sense? Or that aren’t worth the time and effort? Or that aren’t even producing positive, measurable change?

If you raised your hand, you’re not alone. Almost all of us have worked at organizations where this is true. And the reason…

Because we often don’t ask ourselves a few key questions when ideas come in the door.

Question 1: Does it align with our mission and vision?
Question 2: Does it connect with the goals or priorities we’ve identified through annual or strategic planning?
Question 3: What does it take to do, and do we have the time and resources to do it well?
This month at THRIVE IMPACT, we’ve been working with an organization to ask and answer the third question using a frame we call the Impact-to-Viability Matrix.

Using it is simple!

Step 1: Take the data for each program or activity. Ideally, you want to gather five years of data to ensure you aren’t making decisions based on a moment in time. For impact, gather outputs and outcome data. Gather revenue, expense, net gain or loss, and price per beneficiary for financial viability.

PRO TIP: Don’t worry if you don’t have all of this data. Gather what you can.

Step 2: Rank each program based on where it fits on this grid based on your data. Allow your team members to rank where they think each program or activity fits independently.

Step 3: Discuss your rankings, and see what decisions you can make based on what you see!

Chances are, there are a few things you can start saying no to (i.e., those in the bottom left-hand quadrant of the matrix).

The learning from this type of activity can be illuminating—from uncovering the reality of what things cost vs. what they bring in, to deepening your understanding of your output or outcome data.

At THRIVE IMPACT we often say, “Your nos give power to your most important yeses.” This framework can help you say more nos and bigger yeses. Happy learning! 

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