A spy in the house of love

Keystone’s Chief Executive David Bonbright delivered the talk below at IMPCON 2016 in Atlanta. Despite the striking resemblance, this is not an engraving of Jeremy Nicholls. It is William Blake’s depiction of Isaac Newton. Staying with this theme of artistic perspectives on measurement, I have borrowed from the writer Anais Nin for the title of my talk, a spy in the house of love. I say “a spy” because I am not formally trained in[…]

Turning high scores into low scores, or overcoming courtesy bias

Overcoming courtesy bias – the tendency of people to tell you what they think you want to hear – is challenging. Especially in situations with a power imbalance. But for feedback data to be useful it has to be honest. One of our clients came up with various ways to overcome this courtesy bias and find ways to persuade constituents that being frank is in everyone’s best interest. The Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO) provides[…]

Funders and feedback; putting their money where their mouth is

Last summer, the Blagrave Trust with support from Keystone Accountability set out to learn more about what youth-oriented charities do to listen and respond to the young people they help. Keystone spent time with key staff from eight Blagrave partners to understand and document their youth feedback related practices. Among the eight partners, there was a growing recognition of the importance and value of listening, and as a result feedback was becoming a higher priority[…]

Who should measure the impact of non-profits? Responses to Caroline Fiennes and Ken Berger

This article was originally published on Alliance Magazine’s website on March 22, 2016. The non-profit impact revolution has taken a wrong turn. The job of examining their impact should be done by independent specialists rather than non-profits themselves: this is what Caroline Fiennes and Ken Berger argue in the March 2016 issue of Alliance magazine. As self-styled ‘veterans and cheerleaders’ of that revolution, their article constitutes both a change of direction and a major mea culpa.[…]

David Bonbright interviewed by Denver Fredrick on the Business of Giving

Hear our chief executive, David Bonbright, in conversation with Business of Giving host Denver Frederick in a new podcast from the radio interview that aired on Sunday evening, 24 January. Denver was very well prepared and we think the result is a breezy, informative “state of the field”. Please let us know what you think! Update, January 28: Denver Fredrick has shared the interview transcript with us, also available on his blog: The following is[…]

Imperfect data – perfectly useful

Having seen a recent and rather controversial weight-loss advert here in the UK, I decided, along with the majority of others I suspect, that I was not ‘beach body ready’. I didn’t really need the advert to draw the conclusion, but none the less I decided I needed to do something about it. More specifically, I decided to do more exercise and to find out once and for all if I too had a rippling[…]

This Time It’s Personal

As organizations start to get serious about feedback, things inevitably come to the moment where feedback gets personal. To be really useful, feedback must touch on an individual’s performance. This is tough stuff. People resist feedback in many different ways. A growing part of Keystone Accountability’s Constituent Voice work with organizations is to help staff recognize auto-immune-type resistance, and overcome it. For a great book on this I strongly recommend Sheila Heen and Douglas Stone’s[…]

Coventry University: listening to its students

Coventry has a history of listening to people. During the Second World War, the people of Coventry wanted to voice their support for the Soviet Army during the Battle of Stalingrad, and their voice was heard. Coventry and Stalingrad were twinned, to promote mutual understandings and improve relationships. The practice of twinning has continued to this day, as has Coventry’s tradition of listening. In the 2015 Guardian University League Table, Coventry University sat at 27,[…]

Feedback as democracy in social change practice

This lead article was first published in Alliance magazine, as part of the June special feature – Beyond Accountability: Feedback as Transformation – co-edited by Keystone’s David Bonbright. A huge shift is happening in the social sector. Dennis Whittle traces it all the way back to the birth of democracy in Greece circa 594 BCE. The people are sovereign! In titling our special theme ‘Beyond accountability: feedback as transformation’ we are signalling that the long[…]

Ringing out 2013 and a modest overture for 2014

As 2013 comes to a close, I write to thank you for your interest in our work to advance Constituent Voice as a tool to solve important societal problems. Topics like performance management, real time data, continuous improvement and downward accountability may make most people’s eyes glaze over — but not yours! Thank you! 2013 was a break through year for Keystone. We are blessed with a geographically and thematically diverse group of clients and[…]