Understanding Our Impact

We know that playing the game changes people, changes environments, it changes things. We know it in our hearts, we see it with our eyes, we can feel it and sometimes we can even touch it. It echos in the tears, the smiles, the hugs, the silences or the in the words of those who enter the game and care to share their journeys with others. However, the questions we ask ourselves are not if the game has an impact, but what impact it has, how does it happen and towards what is that change going. Understanding it allows us to play a more conscious role and re-direct our efforts not only for change but more importantly towards transformation, i.e., change with a purpose and a heading.

Our journey of understanding the impact of the Go Deep game in different stakeholders started in 2017 within the European project GoToDiversity and the task of building a Theory of Change (ToC hereafter). This was our first attempt to build a theory on how change happens – from activities, to outputs, to outcomes and finally to impacts – and also to analyse if we are actually having the impact we believe we have. The ToC approach lead us into interesting avenues but it ultimately failed to really allow us to navigate those portals of transformation that we open once we start playing the cards. More recently and within an EPIM Learning grant we were able to dig deeper and explore non-linear, complex and iterative chains of transformation that have led us to more beyond a direct causality approach – ToC style – and towards a more fluid, participant-led approach that we call here “Narratives of Transformation”.

ToC Report
NoT Report

Measuring Our Impact

Go Deep Spheres of Transformation.
(Inspired by O’Brien and Sygna, 2013; Sharma, 2009)

The popular management moto “you can’t manage what you can’t measure” as spilled way far beyond pure business management and has become an underlying mantra from public institutions, to third sector organizations, to your personal life and your relantionships. It is also one of the key assumptions behind the ToC approach and therefore in our initial quest to understand our impact on people and communities we set out to measure, as best as we could, the changes that we witnessed. We established indicators, built proxy’s whenever we couldn’t reach a comparable metric and tried to somehow quantify and qualify such things as “level of social inclusion”, “feeeling of belonging”, “togetherness”. By way of questionnaires and interviews to participants and facilitators we gathered snap shots of the change process, collected some stories and weave them together into a consistent and coherent Theory of Change that matched our assumptions, expectations and envisioned societal transformation. We measured but we didn’t truly understand. Moreover, we felt that the ToC system and process was neither empowering to those living the transformation, nor truly acknowledging our own biases, assumptions and projections. So, step back, rethink, redesign. Focus not on measuring and managing but on understanding, after all these are complex social iteractions, dynamic transformational proccesses that we know too little about. And this is our own transformational moment regarding the understanding of our impact in the people and communities with whom we play. From measuring to understanding, from projecting to listening, from managing to facilitating. This is where we choose to let the players tell us about their visions of transformation, to let them build their own theory on how that happens, to weave and co-create those stories with us. This is our approach: Narratives of Transformation.

We have designed new cards for the game through which to envision the potential transformations and collect the stories of change in the participating people.

Sharing Our Stories

Our stories are our primary meaning-making mechanism. They frame how we see and feel the reality within and around us. And the stories we choose to tell and re-tell frame our lives. So, stories matter. Even the words within those stories matter. So, we listen and we harvest and we weave them together, from the individual, to the community, to the colective. We focus on these stories because they carry the feelings and the beliefs, and they will determine the behaviours. They can be told with words, with movements, with colours and shapes. That doesn’t matter. The message, the narrative being told behind the shape and the form matters and that’s how we see, and feel, harvest and understand a little bit of the impact that the Go Deep game has in each soul. That’s how we try to bring the invisible in.

“Most of the answers we need to solve outside we also need to solve inside first.”

“It’s a breaking down the walls and having a place to connect.”

“We create something together. It’s very empowering as well to be able to find a voice in that way and share things and disagree.”

“It’s really exciting to forge those new relationships and through the game trying to explore possibilities of change and connection within the community.”

“The emotional depth that you commit to when you`re playing the game, it’s challenging”

“A lot has changed actually. It’s kind of a journey which I’ve been under. It’s changed my thinking, my mentality, it’s actually change my mind so much.”

“For the first time in my life i did something I thought I could never do – sat down and talked in the rain with a person living on the street.”

“This meeting has been special, of bringing things from the inside out. And also to work on methodologies and integrating them to understand the complexities that we human beings have.”

“I was able to revisit and deepen my perceptions. When you think you have a stereotype of a person and you see that someone is able to dismantle it, it helps you to change more, bit by bit, it is the strengthening of this thought that you already had a little.”