Prosono and Vantage Evaluation: Strategy and Insights
First of all, I want to thank everyone for sharing their support and excitement of our acquisition of Vantage Evaluation.
Four years ago, we created Prosono with the belief that the growing number of "social minded" customers, employees, and investors would create new opportunities for for-profit and nonprofit organizations alike. We believed that organizations that took the time to account for this shifting mindset would realize never-before-seen loyalty across all their stakeholders. This would in turn earn them stronger sustainability and a unique competitive advantage.
Today, I think most leaders would agree: As an organization, your products, services, and/or programs must perform and perform well, however, if you aren't making a tangible positive difference in the diverse and sometimes conflicting societal issues that your various stakeholders care about, the headwinds you face will only continue to get stronger for the foreseeable future.
Since our inception, we have talked to over 1,250 organizations across the business, nonprofit, and public sector to better understand what was difficult about incorporating changing stakeholder mindsets and values into their work. What we found was an area that was ripe for new thinking, approaches, and strategies.
Our core services emerged:
- Cause Analysis - Mapping out the societal causes, values, and beliefs across diverse stakeholders so organizations can strategically pick their battles.
- Ecosystem Mapping - There are usually complex ecosystems working on societal causes. We map out and expose the bottlenecks and breakdowns in an ecosystem so that focused efforts are much more likely to make a tangible difference.
- Asset Mapping - We take inventory of an organization’s assets and identify the resources that can naturally impact societal causes in more meaningful ways.
- Agile Strategic Planning - Through our core services, we facilitate organizations through the process of developing a creative, adaptable, and actionable strategy to accomplish their most important goals, particularly when dealing with high degrees of uncertainty.
- Market Validation - We run tests within an organization’s target market to prove or disprove assumptions regarding a new product/service/program.
These services have consistently helped our clients become more valuable to society and experience the benefits that come with doing so. There was, however, a common and glaring challenge that repeatedly surfaced. Although our work and analysis led to compelling strategic recommendations, the societal impact of these recommendations are inherently difficult to measure.
Business and nonprofit leaders do not make significant investments if they have no reliable way to learn if they are working or not along the way. The inability to measure complex societal outcomes is often why it is so difficult to be strategic or innovative when trying to make a tangible positive difference. This is why, for example, even though many organizations want to work to end hunger, most simply focus on direct service so that they can count the number of families fed or meals served. Direct service, while extremely important, is only part of the solution and there are almost always GIANT gaps further upstream in any societal challenge that need to be addressed for things to get fundamentally better. There is a better way.
Our new capability that comes with Vantage Evaluation coupled with our existing strategic services will allow us to take our clients deeper into the complexities of real, tangible societal impact where few organizations are able to go. A place where impact per dollar is higher and competition is scarce. We will be able to help guide them to even more creative, innovative, and impactful solutions that the world needs and that customers, employees, and investors value.