Measures of Success

Measuring financial progress is straight forward. But how does one measure success?

How do we know that we are making any progress towards our social mission? If our mission is employ displaced people (such as newly resettled refugee women) who experience significant barriers to workforce entry, and put them on a path to economic self-sufficiency, how do we know whether we’re moving the needle? What outcomes are appropriate to monitor?

1. Job Creation: A measure of success can be the number of new jobs we create and sustain. Over the past 5 years, Upohar has gone from a catering company with 2 part-time cooks, to a restaurant and catering services with 2 full-time and 3 part-time employees.

This is a good metric, but perhaps too simplistic and narrow. If Upohar grows to employ 10 people, is that adequate? What else is possible? How else can we make a bigger impact?

2. Training and mentorship: In the past three years, three of Upohar employees have successfully found permanent jobs in other organizations based on the professional experience gained at Upohar. What if we build on this track record and increase the number of “graduates” by creating a formal apprenticeship program? This could open up opportunities to new people on an ongoing basis.

I have a conversation scheduled with Hot Bread Kitchen — I’m curious to learn from Jessamyn’s experience.

3. Asset-building and economic stability: We provide displaced women with the opportunity to become economically independent, thus ensuring that they do not stay on government-issued welfare. Our track record to-date includes one employee who had been working two jobs until she joined Upohar full-time in 2014, who bought her first house one year later; and another employee who, with the money she earned at Upohar, saved enough within one year to move into a bigger apartment, and pay for her daughter’s medical tests so she could immigrate to the U.S.

In what ways can we build on this experience and ensure similar outcomes for others?

For lasting success, one needs more than a job. One cannot focus on work if there are distractions at home.

Especially for people in transition, during a difficult time in their lives, support is critical. I remember Bateson discussing this in Composing a Life. It may be time to re-read that chapter. And find out who else may be doing any innovative work along these lines.