Can Social Impact From Design Be Measured?

Last month, I was asked to respond to the prompt, "Can social impact from design be measured?" for publication on Impact Design Hub. They asked leading practitioners working in the social impact realm to answer their challenge as part of their Measuring Impact series. My response focused on the lack on knowledge of how to measure impact and not necessarily the prohibition of "if" we can measure social impact. My excerpt is below. Visit Impact Design Hub to read the responses from other social impact design leaders from IDEO.org, New York City Public Design Commission, Designing Justice Designing Spaces, Design Impact Group at Dalberg, and more. 

From Impact Design Hub:

"Can social impact from design be measured? Yes. Do most designers know how? No. And, that’s the problem.

Discounting a few exceptions, emerging and practicing designers are not being taught how to determine research benchmarks, the necessity of pre- and post-testing, analysis of data, and so on. While social science, “hard science,” and non-profit management/social entrepreneurship programs integrate ethnographic research, measurement, and evaluation into their curriculum, the creative field only recently began to explore these topics through the creation of design research and social impact design specializations (primarily within top design schools). Not only is the ability to show impact a necessity within the social impact field (especially with the purpose of our work being the improvement of a social or community issue), it is pertinent for the design field overall.

Antionette Carroll is the President and CEO of Creative Reaction Lab, a social enterprise cultivating creative leadership to improve the human experience through immersive challenges. She is currently the president of AIGA Saint Louis and Chair of AIGA: The Professional Association of Design’s Diversity and Inclusion Task Force."

Can social impact from design be measured? What do you think? Visit Impact Design Hub for more articles regarding social impact and social innovation design.