Impact Elevator Analysis

Bespoke spur: tool

Sometimes it's hard to know where exactly to start on a particular problem. You may know the subject - such as single use plastics - but have no idea where to start, or what are the underlying causes.

This tool helps to quickly analyse a challenge (social or otherwise) and generate options of where to narrow focus on a particular contributing factor, or underlying cause.


Step one · Desired state

Define your vision for the future in a singular, concise statement. It may be lofty, but needs to be measurable. For example, 'An Australia with zero suicides'.

Step two · Focus

Social issues are complex and nuanced, so step two focusses on a specific demographic or segment who are affected by the issue. Note:  The use of the term "affect” is intentional and refers to whom a solution will benefit.

This is different to who may be targeted by your actions. This is subtle difference, but important. Your focus should be based on research, data, and insights. E.g. spur:'s elderly loneliness project, #OLDMATE benefitted elders, but targeted younger people.

Following on from the example in Step One, this may be 'Young men aged 14-44', for whom suicide is the leading cause of death.

Step three · Barriers 

Brainstorm a list of thematic or specific barriers that prevent the desired state for this demographic being achieved. More than six may be ideated, if desired. Examples might include inequality, lack of knowledge, apathy, gender roles, and so on.

Step four · Key barrier

Select the barrier that, if removed, would have the most profound effect. This requires deep thought and reflection on the depth and ramifications of each barrier. This may also be based on a hypothesis, and will later need to be verified with data. This process is iterative and generative, so expect to return to key points in this process.

Step five · Barrier breakdown

Brainstorm as many ways in which the key barrier could be broken down. It is important to avoid analysis of ideas at this stage—this is purely about generation. Remember, all ideas are good ideas in brainstorming. Specificity here is key, and examples should be as prescriptive as possible. For example: Online resources, mentoring, increased funding, and so on.

Step six · Categorisation

Categorise the brainstormed options into relevant themes—often 4-8, though there is no correct number. Examples may include education, media, social pressures, economic, etc.

Step Seven · Key category

The final step of picking a key category has two options:

  1. Select the category that is likely to most effectively break down the key barrier.
  2. Select the category that your project / organisation is in the best position to action.

In an idea world, option one would always be pursued, or perhaps some combination of the two. However, constraints such as charitable constitution, funding, resourcing, time, and more, may impact the decision. You may end up finding a balance between the most impactful and the most practical.

This process will generate an actionable starting point of a solution to achieve your vision.  


Click here to down an A3 PDF of the canvas

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