Impact Gaps Canvas
Submitted by Daniela Papi-Thornton

This tool is designed to help students and practitioners think about the change they want to make in the world within the wider context of the problem and the landscape of solution efforts which have already been underway. We spend time looking at how their challenge is connected to other challenges and the impact the bounds they have set on the challenge has on their own thinking about the topic. I generally use the canvas as a question generating tool. I ask questions like: “If you knew EVERYTHING you could possibly know about your chosen challenge, even things you know would be impossible to easily find out, what would you know? What numbers, feelings, relationships, data, etc, would you better understand if you were omniscient about this issue?” I then ask workshop participants to write down as many questions as they can about the challenge on the left side of the canvas. In reflecting on those questions, we then look at what proxies they might be able to find for data they consider “impossible” to find. I ask them to consider which questions underpin the validation for any of their existing solution efforts, and if they don’t have reliable answers to those questions, how they might go about testing those assumptions. On the right side, I invite them to think about existing efforts, by those working on the same issue or in the same geography whose work could be learned from or built upon, and efforts globally which might be tangential to the challenge. In the middle, users are invited to consider various levers of change or gaps in the existing efforts. This tool is the basis from which we designed the Map the System contest at Oxford.