Aligning Vision to actions - Combination of assessments with forward looking and creative approach to build long term capacity for societal Impact through collaboration

We suggest in this paper that there is a need to develop a complementary way of assessing universities performance that can form part of the impact creation process rather than being an expensive and backward-looking control mechanism.

Johan Blaus
KTH - Royal Institute of Technology

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Susanne Nilsson
KTH - Royal Institute of Technology

Outcomes and impact of the case
The evaluation in RAE-2012 showed that KTH has a strong impact and engagement with society and has many different ways of interacting with the society. Also, that more than half of the KTH research base was found to have an ‘outstanding impact and engagement with society’. This confirms that the research carried out at KTH continues to be taken forward effectively and to the benefit of society.
Based in the analysis performed in Impact 2.0 a number of key elements for a KTH impact strategy were identified. The project developed an overall strategy and goals for impact creation at KTH. It worked with university and policy leaders at KTH and internationally. From these interactions a set of systematic processes and verified tools for the realization of impact through engagement with society were established. The results find their fullest expression in KTH’s plan for Impact 2015-2017. It has deepened the support for has also worked systematically to establish new enabling capacity at the key institutional points necessary for creating, capturing and communicating impact.
The results from Impact3C provide Faculty, students and professional support staff with the skills, resources and environments necessary to deliver impact at an internationally competitive level. The project has had a holistic and co-creative approach to building impact through collaboration in education and research. It has used on the international networks to reinforce levels of ambition and abilities. The project has continued to develop methods to capture the results of impact creating activities. It will also engage with the role that communication plays in establishing a culture of impact. Create, Capture, Communicate are the catchwords of the project. As a result of Impact 3C, strategy, skills and actions for impact will be embedded at key points across KTH. One major mechanism for strengthening this is that the Impact perspective is embedded in the management processes at KTH. This means that Impact is included in the annual assignments to the line organization resulting from a systematic dialogue between the President and the Schools.
The approach taken in the case studied points to an interesting avenue for how evaluation exercises can be designed and executed. By making use of a more forward-looking and creative approach, assessment becomes not only a separate part of the impact creation process but rather forms an important mechanisms to identify new perspectives and even new pathways to broader impact. Molas-Gallart (2012) list of evaluation purposes definition is hence challenged and we suggest it to be expanded with a fourth; a creation use will make use of a mutual dialogue and creative methods identify new solutions to existing challenges. The approach is suggested to not only be more creative and solution oriented. Its basis in design thinking methods and its strong focus on user involvement also embrace the different perspectives that are present in the collaboration between universities and external partners. Instead of avoiding the conflicts that many times arise as a consequence from partners having diverse goals, it embraces these and turns them into an enabler for more creative solutions. The case study shows on the importance to combine such forward-looking and creative approach with the more traditional ones. This is reflected in how the change work to stimulate a more systematic and strategic way of working when it comes to creating more broader impact in the case is designed; a combination of top-down and bottom-up is seen to be crucial.