Why do many impact investors, who seek social, environmental, and economic returns on patient timelines, park customer insight at the door when they want to achieve multiple bottom lines?

There are plenty of examples of impact investors consulting communities and gathering feedback prior to project design and implementation.

To do that work they’re using approaches and tools like embedding volunteers, the Deliberate Leadership framework, and the United Nation’s human security framework.

Beyond working with deeply embedded community members, impact investors can get a sense of community needs via the Deliberate Leadership framework, which puts investee communities at the center of investment due diligence and builds investment strategy from the ground up. The framework involves:

  • Mapping community partners and following up through surveys, focus groups, and conversations to build a local strategy that incorporates feedback throughout the investment process from entry to exit.
  • Listening to divergent viewpoints and building collaborations to reflect these different perspectives, however uncomfortable the process.
  • Building empathy among investors for the people and communities their investments support.
  • Active, iterative community feedback anchors this framework. While the power and utility of such feedback is often acknowledged, it remains the exception and not the rule.

Read the full article about the Deliberate Leadership framework by Gayle Peterson at Stanford Social Innovation Review.