What is Meaningful Change?

We all live through a variety experiences and learn that change is inevitable, but what makes it meaningful is having the notion of progressing to ‘something better’. This could be as simple as learning about new technology & its features, for example, our TEDxGlasgow Partner Solius Group use Virtual Reality to help you experience the design of a new building by ‘walking’ through its layout.

In my view, meaningful change comes from a symbiosis of learning and creating impact; it occurs when an action and its outcome brings value to those affected. Intentional change often makes us think critically about how to make a difference, and dig deep into what we believe is important. An example that stands out to me is from Amos Miller, whose talk “Light up the World through Sound” at TEDxGlasgow in 2015 encouraged re-thinking guide options for the blind and visually impaired to enhance their outdoor experience. A talk I personally enjoyed massively.

Impact Team

Creating an impact can be personal and on a wider scale. Understanding whether something is ‘change for the sake of change’ or genuinely better than before – it’s this difference that makes a change meaningful. The TED talk “Being Young & Making an Impact” by Natalie Warne demonstrates how small actions can lead to big outcomes and create meaningful impact – in Natalie’s case, starting a silent protest that reached Oprah & resulted in Obama making a change in law!

What does impact mean to us?

Sparking ideas and sharing knowledge is what TEDxGlasgow wants to facilitate and encouraging the conversion of these ideas into bold and brave actions – everything we do is geared towards having a positive impact. Our vision & mission explains why impact is so important to TEDxGlasgow.

Our Vision: Scotland is a more prosperous, sustainable, creative, fairer and healthier nation.

Our Mission: TEDxGlasgow is a catalyst for systematic, macro-level change in Glasgow, Scotland and the wider world.

On an individual level, impact is possible where someone has been inspired by their experience, which can be at an event, through who they meet, during a scenario where they decide to act. A recent TED talk “If a story moves you, act on it” by Sisonke Msimand explores this notion of taking action, her talk covers the influence a story can have on a listener and suggests what more action could lead to in the future.

I’ve met many who have a story to share – a favourite is from an event attendee who saw a creative mood board that people added their ideas to and loved it. They adopted a mood-tree version into their learning and development role, adding their creativity by using colour themes, and soon after the mood-tree’s usage rippled into their wider L&D team. I love this!

On a larger scale with an organisation or society, impact can come from sharing knowledge on a challenge faced by the city of Glasgow and encourages interaction between influencers that can collaborate to make a difference. A 2016 TEDxGlasgow talk by Laura Beveridge has been a great example of such knowledge sharing and has since helped her convert her message about Kids in Care into an incredibly well-received Documentary. Such a positive result is at the heart of impactful outcomes we strive for at TEDxGlasgow and is what continues to drive us forward.

You may be familiar with the phrase “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it”, so consider what it would mean if only broken things were to be fixed. Are we missing out areas that could be better? By challenging ourselves to widen our scope, we can continue to learn and re-think, boldly act to make a lasting change and create a meaningful impact on Glasgow, Scotland and the rest of the world.

TEDxGlasgow 2016 impact team

How do we measure impact?

Now, here’s a question!

I see impact measurement as the process of trying to find out what effect an intervention is having on an organisation, on people or their environment (this can be physical, economic, political or social). It includes the collation of outcomes that are immediate and short-term, as well as broader and longer-term effects, all of which can be planned or unforeseen, results from changes that are positive or negative. To help keep the journey simple, we ask ourselves some key questions:

  • When will we see the impact an idea is trying to achieve?
  • How will evidence be collected and measured?
  • What would have happened without the involvement of TEDxGlasgow?

Some measurements are fairly straightforward – we had over 100 people contact us directly to tell us that they’d gone and given blood for the first time following Rachel Robbins Lairds 2015 talk on the importance of blood donation – whilst others take considerable analysis.

Measurement derives from reviewing all activities involved from ‘light touch’ routine monitoring of outcomes to the intensive evaluation of outputs. The important part for me is getting feedback from those who engage with TEDxGlasgow – understanding impact comes through realising the outcomes from people who were inspired to act, learning what organisations can share about the progression of their ideas, and by assessing the influences that have helped to trigger meaningful change. Ideas are sparking all the time and individuals are inspired to act in some manner; the hard part is knowing about all of them and joining all the dots of outcomes we find to the right idea.

Ellis Watson encouraged us to “Disrupt Yourself or Die Trying” at the 2016 TEDxGlasgow event & many said they’d follow his advice to ‘do something for the first time’. In time, we’ll learn through feedback whether they did and what impact it had on them, plus the growing volume of changes we’re tracking – we’ve lots of exciting work ahead!

  • Written by Zeb Ahmed
  • Posted on February, 6 2017

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