Measure for Success

Once cross-sector partners are united around a shared vision and common agenda, they work together to identify shared measures that can help them track progress, “discuss learnings, and improve strategy and action.”2

Developing a system through which participants can share data and learn from each other’s successes and failures allows unprecedented growth, emergent learning, and solutions and resources to be discovered.

“Collecting data and measuring results consistently across all participants ensures efforts remain aligned and participants hold each other accountable.”1

Three Phases to Developing a Shared Measurement System2


  • Shared vision for the system and its relation to broader goals (theory of change or roadmap)
  • View of current state of knowledge and data
  • Governance and organization for structured participation
  • Identification of metrics
  • Identification of data collection approach, including rules for confidentiality/transparency


  • Development of web-based platform and data collection tools
  • Refinement and testing of platform and tools
  • Staffing for data management and synthesis


  • Learning forums and continuous improvement
  • Ongoing infrastructure support
  • Improve system based on a pilot, review, refinement, and ongoing evaluation of usability and impact.


  • Improved Data Quality
  • Progress tracked toward a shared goal
  • Enables coordination and collaboration
  • Promotes learning and course correction
  • Catalyzing action – simply having data in public space is powerful tool for advocacy
  • Strategic Alignment – Individual and group engagement on shared measures enables greater system functionality and alignment
  • Real Time Data and Learning – Real time nature of data provides a way to test hypotheses and learn what is working/not working and why
  • Structure for Learning – Model for Improvement provides useful discipline; partners attend meetings to receive access to data and gain coaching support
  • Motivation and Engagement for Change – Tapping into partners’ knowledge, expertise, and creativity
  • Systems Focus and Alignment- Shared measurement process led to rethinking of plan implementation and helped structure system
  • Community Engagement – Collaborative, transparent, consistent community engagement was critical and led to strong uptake
  • Access to All – Made technology, training and cost accessible to all – equitable between big and small agencies



  • Getting to agree on shared measurements with competing priorities
  • Fear that organizations will be compared
  • Limited capacity for data collection and analysis
  • Time and cost
  • Backbones being staffed with enough manpower to help partners contribute and use data in the shared measurement system.3


Key Success Factors2

  • Strong leadership and substantial multi-year funding
  • Independence from funders in devising indicators and managing system
  • Broad engagement during design by organizations, with clear expectations about confidentiality/transparency
  • Voluntary participation open to all organizations
  • Effective use of web-based technology
  • Ongoing staffing for training, facilitation, and reviewing data accuracy
  • Testing and continually improving through feedback
  • Facilitated process for participants to share data and results, learn, and better coordinate efforts
  • Technology is Secondary – When designing a system, the technology is secondary to the process of developing shared measures
  • Moving Beyond Privacy Concerns – Privacy concerns seem to mask agency worry over scrutiny


Model for Improvement2

 SMART Measurements

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Action-oriented
  • Realistic
  • Timely

3 Levels of Change

  • System
  • Across Organizations
  • Individual Organizations

Act, Plan, Study, Do

  • What are we trying to accomplish?
  • How will we know that a change is an improvement?
  • What changes can we make that will result in improvement?


helpful resources

Embracing Emergence: How Collective Impact Addresses Complexity 

Collective Impact: Implementing Shared Measurement Webinar 

Understanding the Value of Backbone Organizations in Collective Impact 


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