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Posted on Friday September 11, 2020

Updated on Monday November 6, 2023

Design your impact: Impact Playbook Phase 1

How can you use the Europeana Impact Playbook to start designing and assessing your impact? This webinar covers the basics, and brings together professionals from across continents and specialisms to discuss the opportunities and challenges we face in demonstrating the impact of cultural heritage. 


This was the second webinar in our series of five that aim to support professionals in using the Europeana Impact playbook, and provide a way for you to better plan, measure and understand the impact that digital cultural heritage creates. It took place on 28 October 2020 from 15:00 - 16:00. 


  • Nicole McNeilly (Impact Advisor, Europeana Foundation, moderator)

  • Marco Rendina (European Fashion Heritage Association)

  • Dafydd Tudur (National Library of Wales)

  • Maria Drabczyk (National Film Archive - Audiovisual Institute, Poland)

  • Robert Davies (Cyprus University of Technology - moderating the chat and Q&A)


What did we cover?

After an introduction from Nicole McNeilly, the webinar moderator and Impact Advisor at Europeana, Marco Rendina gave some context behind the development of the Playbook. The story goes back to 2012. We saw some feedback from those who have already downloaded the Playbook. Though it’s a small sample of respondents, we saw that they described the Playbook as useful and practical. Maja Drabczyk and Dafydd Tudur jointly introduced the resources of the Europeana Impact Playbook Phase one, namely, the empathy map, the value lens, the strategic perspectives and the change pathway. It was great that they used the webinar itself to illustrate the resources - what could the impact of this webinar be? (Give away - look at the change pathway below)

Image of a hypothetical change pathway taken from the slides presented by Maja Drabczyk and Dafydd Tudur at the second webinar in the Impact Community webinar series

The image includes the following text divided into sections: 

  • CHI professional

  • Preparation for webinar; The Impact Playbook; participants, facilitators and presenters time

  • 'Design your impact' webinar 28-10-2020

  • Number of people in webinar; feedback from webinar

  • Better understanding of the Playbook

  • Train professionals within CHI; Impact Framework embedded in CHI; becomes an ''impact practitioner''; uses Playbook to assess their impact; shares impact experiences; wider awareness of the impact of CHI

  • CHI that understands and articulates impact

The stakeholders are important in an impact assessment design process, and Dafydd made the point that it’s hard to see from the eyes of everyone involved in or benefitting from project activity. The panelists noted that normally, we’d be introducing these resources in a room with everyone around us, with some time and many post-its to hard. Because this was just an overview, participants of the webinar were encouraged to download the Playbook and read it for themselves. One participant commented in the chat:

I think measuring the Impact of Digital projects is fundamental, as too many Institutions do these projects without a clear idea of what they want to reach and sometimes with a very low level of empathy and capacity to understand what the stakeholders really need, with the bad result to throw money away or, even worse, to develop a project that is no more sustainable or interesting after the first release.

In the short discussion before we ended the recorded part of the webinar, we spoke about how the Playbook has been used in practice. Marco and Maja gave some examples of how they’ve used it in developing funding proposals and projects, for different funding sources, some of which are linked to Europeana and some of which aren’t. There was a time when proposals didn’t ask what the impact of a project might be, but Maja told us the value of this question being asked for us and for the activity we deliver. 

She also emphasised the value of the team approach, and that the Europeana tools allow you to explore what the impact of your work might be with your whole organisation. With this in mind, time is needed to go through (at least part of) the Playbook process. You do have to invest time and energy: Marco told us that ‘it’s not something you do in one month...and it needs resources, and time’. In some cases, the full process isn’t possible, but parts of the Playbook resources and tools might be most relevant - Marco discussed the use of the empathy map as a tool to understand the experience of stakeholders who were using a tool that was in development.

The panel were asked about the cost-benefits of conducting an impact assessment. It depends of course on the resources available and the time available. But, according to Marco, the design process is worth investing in, because you can find things you hadn’t expected that can help you make better strategic decisions. Also the Playbook leaves room for flexibility and allows you to “cherry pick” between the offered tools, so that you can align them with your capabilities.

We didn’t have much time for other questions, but luckily we had planned an additional group discussion after the webinar. This wasn’t recorded, but the summary continues...

Group discussion - a summary

We were thrilled to see so many people joining us to ask questions and participate actively, and to see a lot of people hang on to listen to what was being discussed. 

It was clear from the questions coming in from the chat that actually applying the tool was one of the areas people were most interested in. 

Do you use all of the resources every time you complete the exercise? Can you be flexible with what you use? 

Yes. Marco mentioned earlier in the webinar the value of using parts of the framework at different times, but also emphasised the value of the process of impact design. Nicole also gave her perspective, by adding that in times when it’s difficult to get people in the same room and when colleagues are having digital-meeting fatigue, it can be tempting to do most of the work by yourself, you can save time but lose insight and richness in your impact design. Worst of all, you can move forward with unchallenged assumptions which might negatively impact your survey design or data collection approach. 

So the moral of the lesson is: the more, the better - both in terms of time and people involved. The effort will pay off. With that in mind, we also want to facilitate a ‘light-touch’ way of applying the framework, keeping in place the essential components of the methodology and using this in a digital setting. A Taskforce has been set up to work on this and will have something to share in 2021. 

Image of the panel and the presentation of the empathy map taken from the slides presented by Maja Drabczyk and Dafydd Tudur at the second webinar in the Impact Community webinar series.

The image includes the following text about ''our persona'':  

  • Feel - things that the person feels
  • See - things that the person says and does
  • Say and do - things the persona says and does
  • Hear - things that the persona is hearing around him or her
  • Pain - these are the challenges
  • Gain - these are the benefits

It would be great to listen to some stories of how the methodology was used in practice.  Are there case studies of how the Playbook has been used? 

Yes there are, and we shared a link to a completed change pathway (Phase 1). We’re in the process of finalising some more case studies to be published before the end of the year, and we will try to focus on the way that we’ve used the Playbook. Furthermore, the case studies dotted throughout Phase one of the Playbook give some hypothetical insights into how the Playbook has been used, based on our own experiences. 

How do you balance the need to show different types of impact, such as economic and social impact, or legacy and utility? How do you prioritise what sort of impact you want to assess? 

There will always be demands from different corners. For example, a funder (or your local municipality) may want to see economic return on their investment. You can combine a number of perspectives in one impact assessment, but you should also consider how you can prioritise. The Playbook methodology in Phase one and two encourages you to do this. It should also be noted that sometimes, investigating one area can lead to learning about impact in another. We found, for example, that by convening networks of professionals, this led to increased access to funding, and thus, supports the sustainability of the sector. We weren’t focussing on this outcome, but it’s set a potential future research direction for us. 

Can we apply the playbook to e.g. our digitised collection as a whole? Or does it always need to be applied to separate projects (e.g. certain IT development, digitisation project, proces changes). 

The Playbook is flexible. For some things, e.g. standalone projects or activity where you have few variables that might affect the outcome, the Change Pathway exercise can provide enough space for you to consider all of the value and stakeholders you need (yes, multiple stakeholders can be included on one change pathway). You should be able to map the change an organisation wants to have at both a strategic and a project level on a change pathway. 

But change is not always linear. In some instances, you might need something which shows a bit more nuance, for example, mapping assumptions, circularity of outcomes, and dependencies. A Theory of Change is one way of doing this. Europeana is also working on one of these, and we hope to share both our draft and the working behind it, some time soon. 

How do you balance the many different people that might need to be involved in the impact design process?

A strong facilitator always helps, but despite people’s different experiences or differences in opinions at a surface-level, at the heart of the matter they can usually come together to push forward an organisational understanding of its impact. The team is important and the more perspectives the better.