Tavistock Institute evaluates Fixperts impact.
Fixperts is social innovation project/ campaign that aims to encourage design students, design professional and members of the public to engage in fixing and making in collaboration with members of the public who have a problem or need that is amenable to a design solution.
Through the provision of online materials about how to do a Fixperts project, and through posting the videos that are made as part of the project, Fixperts encourages social design. The aim of the research is to review existing materials and start developing an account of the impact that Fixperts has had to date and from this to start designing an evaluation framework for the future.
Fixperts emerged organically from the collaboration of its two founders and has grown rapidly as it has been taken up by university design school in 11 different countries, being incorporated into a range of university courses. Because of the pace of this development no formal research and evaluation had been undertaken. For this reason the Tavistock Institute were commissioned to look back over the progress of the last few years with a view to better undersign how the programme works and where it could go next.
The main aim of the research was to evidence the impacts that anecdotally Fixperts appeared to be having. This is particularly in relation to benefits derived by the Fixperts (students undertaking the projects), Fixpartners (the member of the public collaborating with the Fixperts), and the educational institutions that host the programme.
As this evaluation represents the first formal research undertaken on Fixperts we adopted an exploratory approach based on a Theory of Change framework. This was then supplemented by interviews with a range of participants and stakeholders and the analysis of the Fixperts film archive.
Our research found a wide range of possible benefits to participation for all stakeholders. For students it provided an opportunity for developing technical design and transferable skills, for the Fixpartners there was an opportunity to work with designers to build useful products that solved real problems, for the educational institutions it was a useful vehicle for teaching about social design and a good way to promote the work of the design schools.
As a social initiative which has been growing organically and at pace, we approached Tavistock Institute to help us understand the impact we’re having and help to structure our thoughts about impacts we might aim for in the future. They assessed what we think and say we are doing against what we’ve done, using an evidence based process. They then facilitated a conversation around the types and levels of impact we want to aim for in the future and, importantly, how we structure and document these impacts. The evaluation process successfully made all these elements visible and enabled us to use them to inform our future planning.
The process itself was tailored to our organisations size and character, and particularly sensitive to the limitations of what we can reasonably ask from our wide group of volunteers. Matt and Heather’s ability to work with credibility and authority with minimal grounding in some of the areas we operate in was impressive. They facilitated and pushed the creation of our Theory of Change map which we’ve adopted successfully as a strategic tool, and were also effective at helping Fixperts hone the language with which we communicate our values, aims and goals.
Beyond our internal processes being able to share their independent evaluation with partner organisations and within the academic community has clearly contributed to our credibility. All in all it’s been a very successful process which has helped us make huge progress in the last year.
Daniel Charney, Founder and Director, Fixperts