Funny word: ‘Impact’….

Check out James Veenhoff’s take on the buzz-word du jour: ‘Impact’ – as published on LinkedIn Pulse.

Funny word: ‘Impact’.  It’s one of those buzz-words du jour; terms everyone seems to be using more frequently nowadays. From personal experience, we’ve also noticed it becoming a metric to judge a consulting firm’s quality. We too – at Fronteer – strive to create impact for our clients. But what actually does this mean?

We took this very question as the theme for the 8th edition of ‘An Afternoon at the Fronteer’, (our six-monthly executive inspiration get-together about expert co-creation), engaging 30 clients, prospects and other stakeholders in answering it.

In subgroups, participants shared personal and professional perspectives and came to a number of shared conclusions. Three of our clients – Philips, Heineken and HEMA – kindly presented some of their recent work with Fronteer as illustrations of ‘what impact looks like’ in practice. In an ensuing discussion, we compared three definitions from, which gave an interesting perspective;

  1. forceful impact
  2. influence, effect
  3. the force exerted by a new idea, concept, technology or philosophy

Although the third definition struck me as the most inspiring at the outset, we interestingly concluded that impact does imply a singular moment (like that of a collision) with ‘before’ and ‘after’ its effect; so in fact definitions 1 & 2 were valuable too, in understanding impact.

From the case studies presented, we also realised that impact can have many faces:

  • on oneself, the way-of-working of your team or company;
  • on your partners, channels or retailers;
  • on clients, consumers and their life;
  • finally on the world or the way we see it

Impact and definitions of success

Another interesting observation was that pursuing impact in itself can be seen as superficial, even counter-productive in some cases. Practically speaking, though, we all want to prevent concepts or recommendations ending up in drawers: if nothing happens, there’s no impact and no success.
To avoid this, we have developed a simple grid to help us ‘keep our eyes on the prize’; to connect challenges & objectives to clear definitions of success & jobs to be done. We call it ‘the impact grid’. In practical terms, it boils down to knowing what you want to achieve, translating this into a proposition and identifying (& performing) jobs to be done. [see: Impact Grid]

At Fronteer, we are specialised in the use of Expert Cocreation to create clarity & concepts for growth. If that’s the type of impact you are looking for, why not give us a call. Expert co-creation contributes to impact in different ways:

  • It results in great new ideas and insights;
  • It helps to build up mandate and decision-making power;
  • It is a shared learning experience;
  • It provides momentum for action.


What is impact about for you? And what are the barriers you come across when striving for impact? Feel free to comment in the section below or contact us for further information: