At Wesley Community Action, our community innovation mahi emerged over years of thinking and experimenting about how to work differently. We were on a haerenga to understand strength based practice. In doing that, community-led initiatives started to emerge from all areas of our mahi. This emergent activity was focused on the ‘doing’ and because it often didn’t fit traditional funding models it was always under resourced and running on the smell of an oily rag.
When we started Te Hiko we knew that we had to spend energy filling the gap of capturing some of our impact and what we were learning, as well as finding a way to carveout some time for reflection for our whānau working on community innovations.
These snapshots are our current way to do that.
How do they work?
Every 3 months, we ask our project leads to spend one hour filling out their Impact Snapshot. In doing this they reflect on their last 3 months mahi. They also look to their previous snapshots to notice what has changed over this time.
We ask them to dump all the information they can think of under four questions, and then do some quick noticing about each of them:
- How much?
- For who?
- How well?
- So what?
Then we ask them to look through each of them as ask “what do we think about all of this?” which means:
- What do we see?
- What are we most curious about?
- What next?
In the end – each initiative ends up with an overview of their mahi for that last 3 months
The Te Hiko lead team then takes all of the snapshots and does some learning and noticing about what is happening across and in between all of the different initiatives. We also hold wananga with all of the initiatives so that they can share common ideas and things they have learnt.
What are we learning?
These snapshots are most useful if the project lead holds them as their own and sees value in the process. They need to be a true snapshot of what is happening in the project at that time, so that the project lead can use the reflection space to shape their work as needed.
It’s uncomfortable to have to be the nosey person asking about impact – all of our whānau feel they are doing a good job and that’s why they are working so hard. This hard work is exactly why it’s so important that we support our kaimahi and hapori to take time to reflect so they can be always maximising their impact.
This is a practice - we get better at it the more we do it.
It’s really important that the project leads hold these snapshots as their own, but aren’t precious about them being shared openly. If we want to create a culture of ‘it’s okay to fail’ we need to be okay to share our failures and dead ends with other. If we are reflecting on them and changing our mahi as a result then we can celebrate what may otherwise feel like failure.