Intent. Implementation. Impact

One of the great things about being a school governor* (and there are a lot of great things) is that I get to learn about things that wouldn’t otherwise come onto my radar. One of these is the new Ofsted education inspection framework. This is important not just because it determines how the inspectors will assess ‘my’ school. But also because it has introduced me to the concept of intent, implementation and impact.

The three I’s of intent, implementation and impact lie at the heart of the Ofsted framework. And with good reason, because it turns out that they’re a really good way of assessing how well organisations work and how successfully they do the things that they do.

Intent is about what an organisation seeks to achieve, whether that’s providing a rich and varied curriculum, delivering essential services to the local community or brewing the best coffee known to mankind. It’s about what you aim to do, regardless of whether or not you actually achieve it. It’s about ambition.

Implementation is about how well the organisation turns its aspirations into reality. It’s about how you actually do the things you want to do. It’s about how you manage your resources, inspire your people, engage with your service users and create a culture of getting things done. It’s about turning your words into action.

Impact is about the results that the organisation achieves. It’s about helping young people to develop new skills, safeguarding the vulnerable, saving lives or whatever else it is that your organisation is all about. It’s about delivering on your intentions. It’s about making a positive difference to people’s lives.

And so, whenever my fellow governors and I are considering anything that ‘our’ school wants to do, or coming up with ways to address the various challenges that the school faces, we focus on what the intention is, how it will be implemented, the impact that it will have, and how we will know that this impact has been achieved.

Of course, this way of thinking applies to organisations other than schools, too. Indeed, I’d argue that it applies to all organisations. Because intent, implementation and impact are like the three corners of a triangle. You need all of them to make the organisation work effectively. Take one away and the whole thing collapses.

* In case you’re wondering, I’m a governor of Ravenswood School in North Somerset, which is a state-funded special school for young people aged from 4 to 19 years old. Nearly half of our young people are on the autistic spectrum and the rest have a range of complex special needs and severe learning disabilities. If you’re thinking of becoming a school governor, please give it a try. Inspiring Governance and Governors for Schools can help you to find a suitable vacancy and can provide you with valuable ongoing support.

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