The Good Analyst
The Good Analyst is a book about how a better understanding of social value can create a new set of relationships between society, money, and people’s access to an ok life. Money can be difficult to move around in society — getting stuck sometimes in the wrong places, or being imagined to be somewhere where it’s not (or not any more). In the social sector, these difficulties are often compounded by money not really knowing where to go, or how to be effective. But there is a potential lead. As the sector is really about impact — meaning the social or environmental good that comes from somebody doing something — then by looking at impact, it should be possible to send signals to money about to how to move. And so put more distinctly, the book is about how analysing social impact can inform and guide the flow of capital to the places where it can do most good.
good analyst noun 1. a person who analyses social and environmental good, 2. a person who is skilled at this kind of analysis, 3. a force for good, see good Samaritan, good witch
‘some of the best work in this area’
— Karim Harji, Director of Impact Measurement, Saïd Business School, University of Oxford
‘among the most rigorous and front-line publications in the industry’
— Gema Pérez, Structured Finance, Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)
The Good Analyst presents a methodology for impact analysis, along with a set of guidelines for measurement. But any act of analysis is dealing with two kinds of information: firstly and most obviously, information relating to the object under analysis. But also, though often in more coded form, information about the person who is doing the analysis, and how they think. A methodology deflects some of this away from the individual analyst, but it rapidly falls back on the methodology itself, embedded within which will be the assumptions and opinions of whoever devised it.
To be transparent on this front, as no doubt my philosophy has shaped both the methodology and the results it produces, the book opens with an outline of where it has come from in terms of the ideas, beliefs, and perhaps most importantly, the aspirations as to what it can do.
A good analyst, for the purposes of this book, is one who analyses social and environmental good, as well as one who does so well or skilfully, and is, in this sense, good at doing it. But there is a third meaning too, as like a good Samaritan or a good witch, a good analyst can, I believe, be a force for good, with a moral power and a social impact all their own. To grow impact and, as a society, to invest in it, we need to know where and how it is taking place. The genius of the good analyst is in finding this knowledge out.
The Good Analyst has been an influential publication in the field of impact measurement, as well as a direct source for policy-making in a range of international institutions and government departments, including: Big Society Capital, UK; Social Investment Business, UK; the Lithuanian Ministry of Economy, Lithuania; the Seoul Metropolitan Government, Korea; Department for the Promotion of Social and Mutual Assistance, Cabinet Office of Japan; Ministry of Economic Development, Employment & Innovation of Ontario, Canada; Inter-American Development Bank, USA; Department of Budget and Management, the Philippines.
The Good Analyst features:
a lightning history of financial and non-financial accounting, including an overview of current practice, and a penetrating theory of analysis itself
a unique methodology for analysing impact
a set of guidelines for measuring and reporting impact
The book is of direct potential interest to:
social-purpose organisations, such as charities and social enterprises
funders and investors in the social sector, such as funds, commissioners, foundations, and impact investors
government-side policy makers, advisers and regulators
experts including consultants, academics and impact analysts
The Good Analyst speaks also to the wider practice of wealth management. While traditionally managers and advisers have been limited to considerations of risk and return, the development of impact analysis, by providing a means to integrate thinking about impact, represents the addition of a new dimension to one of the world’s largest industries.