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The Impact Navigator: Introduction

Our toolkit for Organisational Design focuses on Impact and Purpose

The Impact Navigator is a toolkit for civil society leaders and social pioneers to ideate, design and develop strong and innovative organisations that have purpose and create impact for a better world.

Humans have created an incredible diversity of organizations that work for a purpose, other than earning money. There are churches, football clubs, local self-help groups, social enterprises, and advocacy networks amongst others. But also, public television networks, military, or town administrations can be considered as for-purpose organisations. Many of those institutions are central to a functioning society, democracy and social progress.

Despite the diversity and relevance of the for-purpose world, most management and organisational development trends have been initiated in the for-profit world. This is not surprising. Practically all the best management schools and publications have their focus on business organizations. So do world-renowned consultancies that work on organizational change. The models and practices are then transferred to the for-purpose world, where they sometimes fit well, and sometimes not so well. 

This is also true for organisational design models. In the Civil Society Academy International, we have used several such models i.e. the MIRA tool for organisational leadership, McKinsey 7S framework, or Galbraight’s Star model (see references). These models are all great, but they do not sufficiently comply with the fundamental ideas of for-purpose organizations. Their organizational design is guided by their north star, their social or environmental purpose, with all other spheres aligning to it: The people and culture, and their struggle for impact and resources.  

The four spheres of organisations that focus on impact and purpose

The four spheres – purpose, culture, impact, and resources – are the design components of a for-purpose organisation. The spheres and the answers to the associated questions determine the design of an organisation. Every organisational design is unique, but there are also clear patterns and models that specific organisations, such as small football clubs or international development NGOs follow.

To describe the four spheres further, there are nine elements. Those elements interact with each other – none of the elements is standing for itself. I am sure you have already started analysing your organisation, how the different elements are developed, and where the challenges are.

The Impact Navigator with four spheres and nine elements:

Why and when to use the impact navigator?

  • It is a simple and tested design tool for civil society leaders, social pioneers, and activists, to analyse their own organisations and design new initiatives and organisations.

  • It provides a comprehensive look at the spheres and elements of for-purpose organisations we must consider when we embark on a journey of developing an impactful organisation.

  • It is versatile and provides orientation for many processes: comprehensive strategy planning or change management in organisations, innovation processes to design or re-design organisations, training sessions on organisational leadership, or to inspire short reflections on single elements. 

  • It is ideal for participatory processes – as you can easily use the templates in groups to collectively analyse with your team, and create a common understanding and plan. 

  • It is a toolkit, with corresponding tools such as the Playground for Change and the Impact Cards.

But let us go systematically through the four dimensions and the nine elements of the model.



John W. McCoy: 9 Organisational design models you should know:

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