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Align on Your Impact Goals

Get crystal clear on the change you want to achieve, in the near-term and long-term.


Suggested Time

60 minutes

Level of Difficulty


Materials Needed

Pens, paper, Post-its


Design team and important stakeholders

Process Phase

Impact is a very loosely used term universally, and can be used to describe an influence or effect on virtually anything. Taking time to explore and align on your impact goals will ensure that your team and stakeholders are all working towards the same vision of success. In the process you’ll uncover expectations for the longer-term change that ultimately matters as well for more immediate outcomes that contribute to that change. It is often these more immediate outcomes, or smaller shifts in behaviours, that will become the focus of your design challenge.


  1. Get your team together, along with others interested in the success of your design challenge. Ask everyone to write on Post-it notes what they hope the impact of the project to be.
  2. Once everyone has generated their thoughts, organize the post it notes in a vertical ‘ladder’. The most long-term, significant, and hard to reach changes should go towards the top, with the more immediate, direct and easy to achieve changes further down.
  3. Now use the Impact Ladder worksheet to agree on and capture two statements. The first should reflect the lasting social change of the project. This will be your long-term Impact. You’ll draw from post-its closer to the top of your ladder to identify this. The second statement should reflect a more near-term goal, an observable change or behavior that you want the people you’re designing for to achieve. This will be your Key Outcome.
  4. At this very early stage of the project, you only need to define the Impact and Key Outcome. You’ll come back to fill in the other worksheet steps later, when you are prototyping ideas and defining exactly how your solution will have impact through a Theory of Change activity.
  5. Your Impact and Key Outcome statements should serve as a north star for your design challenge, helping to ensure you stay focused on your goals. Make sure any other key stakeholders are aligned with your team on these goals too.