The Impact Playbook and the DEN Academy
Maaike Verberk has been director of DEN, Dutch Knowledge Institute for Culture & Digital Transformation, since 2018. She was first introduced to the Europeana Impact Playbook by Harry Verwayen, a key driver behind Europeana’s Impact Framework and now General Director of Europeana Foundation. He shared Phase one of the Impact Playbook, dedicated to impact design, with her.
Maaike reflects, 'The Impact Playbook was an eye-opener because it was the first time I saw the concept of impact clearly standardised. Using the Playbook method moves you from being output and metrics-oriented to outcome-oriented. You think in a focused way about the change you want to bring about with and for stakeholders and in society. The Impact Playbook has made thinking about impact understandable and therefore manageable.'
Enthused, she joined the Europeana Impact Community Steering Group, of which she later became chair. In parallel, within the digital leadership programmes of the DEN Academy for Dutch cultural professionals, Maaike has developed an Impact Awareness workshop format. Using Phase one of the Impact Playbook as a guide, she gives cultural managers an insight into the value of impact for their digital activities and audience development. The format has now been expanded to European heritage leaders in the Europeana-supported DEN Academy Leadership programme.
During the Impact Awareness workshop, Maaike begins with a short introduction to the Playbook’s methodology and lets the participants practice with the Change Pathway canvas, one of Phase one’s key resources.
She says, 'The idea is that they investigate which change they want to bring about with the stakeholder and which activities correspond with that. This invariably leads to surprising insights and results… They often have to cross a threshold because cultural institutions are accustomed to working from the perspective of activity rather than impact. The power of the change pathway canvas lies in the fact that - starting with the digital customer - you first determine what change you want to bring about. Only then do you decide which activity is appropriate… This way, they think beyond the number of subscribers or other quantitative data to the qualitative changes they want to bring about among their stakeholders. The workshop also gives them skills on how they can introduce and take the conversation about impact further in their organisation.'
‘Impact is not only about measurability,' Maaike emphasises, 'it’s about a mindset leap’. Maaike recently delivered an Impact Awareness workshop to several small Dutch Caribbean cultural institutions. 'The workshop gave them tools to think more fundamentally about the project-based approach, develop project results in the long term, and reflect on what they want to accomplish in a network. The method, therefore, also works for smaller, more project-driven organisations. I found it very powerful and received many positive responses afterwards.' Watch the closing session from this event.
As a result of the workshop, Maaike regularly receives the question ‘How can we measure impact?' Despite the publication of Phase two of the Impact Playbook, dedicated to impact measurement, she feels that, 'this is an area where we need a lot of capacity building. Impact measurement is still mainly anecdotal amongst cultural organisations.’
‘The Dutch Arts council is currently investigating how more impact-related funding conditions can be developed. I hope - above all - that cultural institutions will embrace impact as part of their mission to be socially relevant. At DEN, we will also be using it more. For example, by asking questions about impact in advance when addressing a new issue. What change do we want to bring about and what activities are associated with that? You give your colleagues a valuable tool that contributes to internal awareness and a stronger impact narrative. This will enable them to think about – and initiate - changes in the medium or long term.'
Collaborating with Europeana since 2021, there have been two DEN Academy Leadership programmes for managers of European cultural heritage organisations with short but intense Impact Awareness modules. 'During those one and a half hours, I see pennies drop,' she observes. 'At the same time, creating awareness is work in progress, for even in the Europeana Network Association, the power of impact methodology is not yet known by many.'
For Maaike, the value of the impact method is how it puts the digital cultural audience at the centre of digital transformation. 'Through impact, we as a cultural sector show that we matter. After all, we use public funding and have an essential role in society. Wonderful artistic work from the past and present touches people and sets them in motion. Successful impact assessment makes this foundation of our value in society visible.'
Interested in learning more? Find out about the DEN Academy and download the Europeana Impact Playbook and resources to support Impact practice.