How are we doing? How do we know how we’re doing? These are two important questions for all businesses!
One of the most commonly mentioned fruitful practices for BAM practitioners is to have solid input from either mentors or an advisory board, or both. These are the people that will help keep a BAM company on track. Alongside people, systems for measuring and evaluating progress are needed. BAM companies will stay on track as they set goals and then hold themselves accountable to those goals, measuring and evaluating progress as they go.
No BAM practitioner is an island! BAM companies are part of a web of relationships, with clients, suppliers, employers and stakeholders of all kinds. Part of that web is the support network that the BAM practitioners have around them. BAMers need what I think of as 360° support – and that includes different people who will give them coaching, mentoring and wise counsel on various aspects of their BAM objectives.
360° Degree Support for BAM Practitioners
During this series on metrics and accountability, we will be looking at how BAM practitioners can establish mentoring and accountability relationships, including how to go about setting an advisory board.
What to Measure
Just as checking information on the dashboard of a car keeps you safely on the road, business metrics involves monitoring the essential information critical to company success or failure. As the BAM Think Tank Paper on Measuring BAM Impact puts it:
You can drive a car without a fuel gauge or a speedometer, but you will likely run into serious trouble before too much time has passed. The same is true for metrics in business. Without some consistently applied metrics it is very hard to know if the business is on track to achieve what it set out to do. That is dangerous for any business. However, since BAM businesses set out to bring glory to God and to expand the Kingdom of Christ, the consequences of being off track have eternal significance!
Keeping track of the numbers is standard business practice, but BAM practitioners with a lack of experience in using and evaluating measures can fall into one of two pitfalls: The first is ignoring the need for measures altogether or over-spiritualising the criteria for or path to success. The second is trying to track too much information and becoming overwhelmed and unable to effectively utilize the data.
Although BAM companies do not define success only by the financial bottom line, there is a lot to learn from standard business practice when it comes to financial measures. Mainstream businesses have also learned much from the social enterprise movement about evaluating social and environmental impact, and the BAM community can leverage fruitful practices from both as they set goals for multiple bottom lines. A more unique challenge for BAM companies is how we measure and evaluate ‘spiritual success’. Even defining what spiritual success might be can be controversial!
As we cover this topic on The BAM Review Blog in the next month, we hope to provide a practical guide, stories and resources for how BAM practitioners can approach measuring and evaluating progress and building in support and accountability systems.
As the Measuring BAM Impact paper* encourages us:
The best use for measures is as feedback for secure and capable leaders who want to improve. Good metrics are a compass that enables good leaders to stay on track.
*We recommend reading the Measure BAM Impact report in full and we will be posting some extracts from it in the coming weeks.
Jo Plummer is the Co-Chair of the BAM Global Think Tank and co-editor the Lausanne Occasional Paper on Business as Mission. She has been developing resources for BAM since 2001 and currently serves as Editor of the Business as Mission website.
Photo credit: T.Hawk via Flickr