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The Impakt Model: How to find your way to create change for good

Would you like to make your CSR more effective and create lasting change? In this guide, Paul Klein explains how to use The Impakt Model to draw a roadmap that’s tailored to fit your company’s journey towards change for good.

The Impakt Model is a position map with three axes, each of which has a set of questions associated with it. In this article, Paul Klein explains the model.
From CSR to lasting change – a series in seven episodes

This is the third chapter in our series on how corporations can create real and lasting social change through your CSR efforts.

The series is based on the book “Change for Good – An Action-Oriented Approach for Businesses to Benefit from Solving the World’s Most Urgent Social Problems” by Paul Klein.

The series consists of the following articles:

1. Paul Klein has a message for corporations: Drop CSR Lite and make lasting change
2. So you want to create real social change? Here are 9 good questions to begin with
3. The Impakt Model: How to find your way to create change for good
4. The building blocks of change – 7 principles of Change for Good
5. Good CSR starts with your employees. Here’s how to involve them
6. Map the risk of social change
7. Wanna make change for good? This is how you do it

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There are not many people who go on a night run in unknown terrain without a proper map. And those who do quickly regret it.

Likewise, you need a map to show you which route to follow if you have decided to create meaningful social change. The map has to be homemade and tailored to fit your company. Because only you know where you are and where you want to go.

So, let’s get down to the drawing.

The Canadian CSR expert Paul Klein has developed a very simple tool which he calls The Impakt Model. It is basically a position map that consists of three axes. A set of questions is associated with each axis. And by answering them, you will be able to find your own current position on the map and pinpoint the place you want to go to.

After that, all that remains is to draw a line between the two positions. And that line must of course be made up of the actions and activities that bring you safely from the starting line to the finish line.

Most companies are located at the bottom left

The last sentence was an oversimplification, because it is of course through your actions that you make a real difference. And that is where the real difficulty lies. But the position map gives you a good starting point.

According to Paul Klein, most of the companies he works with are in the lower left corner, where the efforts mostly consist of supporting their local communities, supplemented by a few good causes when the opportunity presents itself. The impact is of course either immeasurable or not attempted to be measured.

However, his experience is that many companies would rather be in the upper right corner. Not to say that they would necessarily ever be as bold as Patagonia or Toms Shoes. But they would like to be in the league of companies aspire to help solve social problems and benefit from doing so.

And as Paul Klein prosaically observes, it takes leadership to be seen as a leader.

So, what are the questions you should ask yourselves and each other?

We’ll take that in a moment. But if you want a little more background on The Impakt Model, you can watch this interview, where Paul Klein shares more detail on the model and its creation.

1: Social priorities vs. business priorities

The first axis is about your social priorities versus your business priorities.

Ask yourself why social change is important to your business. Are you motivated by altruism or by making a difference in society? Is your management primarily concerned with the bottom line, or is it the combination of social benefit and profitability that counts?

2: Community investment vs. social change

The questions for this axis are about whether you are ready to do what it takes if you are to create real social change.

Ask yourselves how you view your activities. Do you look at how many resources in terms of money and time you set aside, or do you look at the outcome of your investments? And which of the two is more important to you? How will you approach the task of making a difference and measure whether you are on your way to creating the desired impact?

3: Low engagement vs. high commitment

The questions for the third axis are about who you want to involve in your work – and to what extent.

Ask yourself who the most important stakeholders are for your company and how aware they are of the social efforts you make. Remember to look all the way around: Stakeholders can be everything from employees and shareholders to NGOs, customers, authorities, other companies and the media.

Do you want to involve and engage your surroundings in the processes needed to create change, or do you prefer to run closed processes that you can manage yourself?

The above questions are examples of basic questions. Supplement each of the points with the questions that are relevant to your company.

Now, it’s just a matter of getting started. Have fun with the mapping.

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