Impact tracking

GULL’s code of practice specifies that GULL affiliated organizations must:

  1. Check to ensure that all their participants have gathered together appropriate evidence of their learning and its application prior to each and every level of certification;
  2. Track the impact of the GULL system on a longitudinal basis;
  3. Prepare an annual report in which the evidence of tracking is documented together with whatever corrective action is deemed necessary so as to ensure that any variances are fully addressed.

These are the only mandatory requirements and GULL provides a simple, recommended approach to assist with items 2 (tracking) and 3 (annual reporting).

In getting started, outcomes mapping enables GULL user organizations to integrate GULL certification with their training and other activities. In so doing, participants should be able to gather and summarize the evidence of their own learning (personal and professional) and the specific contribution they have made to community or work-based projects. Outcomes mapping draws on existing formats for documenting outcomes as well as GULL’s generic forms and by requiring all GULL participants to gather the evidence of their respective contributions to change, overall impact tracking is relatively straightforward because each participant is responsible for identifying their own outcomes and evidence of learning.

Using action learning to stimulate change

The GULL learning process is based on two parallel strands of action and reflection. It begins when learners develop an outline plan for their own learning as a basis for attaining personal and organizational learning outcomes. As they progress and at the end of the formal journey, participants must reflect on what they have accomplished for themselves and for the other stakeholders involved in the process. In all cases, the outcomes should have a hard edge – in the form of practical, implementable and trackable contributions to real work/community issues. In this way learners, sponsors and others can discern a difference from their investment in action learning by monitoring or tracking the individual and collective impact of action learning.

Gathering and summarizing evidence of learning and change

The GULL system includes generic, customizable formats for individual reflection and for individual and group projects. Our goal is to enable user organizations to forge a natural form of integration between work and/or other activities and active on-going learning. It is for this reason that all our formats can be adapted to fit the circumstances, the learning objectives and the anticipated learning outcomes. Although most learners provide written evidence of learning and application in their own language, there are circumstances in which a written format may not be the best mechanism to use. Here, evidence of learning might be presented in visual format (e.g. a portfolio of photographs depicting the stages of skill acquisition or project development), video format (using a combined audio-visual approach) or using other practical methods and combinations that clearly demonstrate evidence of learning, application and change.

Impact tracking not only meets the GULL requirement by enabling user organizations to identify what is going well and where corrective action might be necessary, it provides a body of evidence that links the cost of training and other inputs with the return on investment (ROI) in training and individual and organizational effort. In so doing, it is possible to track ROI over time and predict the longer term impact as GULL ‘cascades’ through the organization.

The GULL narrative format provides a number of forms that can be used to gather and track individual learning outcomes:

Return on outputs form Use to summarize personal and organizational learning outcomes after completing four weekly summaries and one monthly summary. [Normally used at Levels 1 & 2]
Project review form Use to reflect on one or more strands of project work, the process and approach deployed, its relative effectiveness, alternative courses of action and the steps required to sustain the project. [Normally used at Levels 3, 4 & 5]
Learning summary form Use to review the learning journey from the outset (at level 1) to the conclusion (at level 5). [Normally used at Level 5]
Outcomes review form Use to summarize and to quantify the outcomes, impact and benefits of your action learning journey. [Normally used at Level 5]

The Outcomes review form (ORF) is especially helpful in settings where affiliate organizations are able to establish a searchable intranet ‘Projects’ database. Here, with minor modification, the ORF can be used to enable GULL participants to add details of the ROI evidence arising from their project work. Prior to database entry, this can be verified and ‘signed off’ (as accurate) by an appropriate specialist or senior leader.


GULL’s recommended impact tracking forms

GULL recommends the adoption of a quarterly self-review format so that user organizations can track their own progress and identify their own variances for corrective action, over an annual cycle concluding with an annual report and review meeting. To facilitate this, GULL provides a simple tracking system with reporting formats that are easy to follow and use. We also welcome and value alternative approaches so that the entire process – from the moment of affiliation through to on-going impact tracking - facilitates customization and ownership aligned with GULL’s code of practice.

Step 1: Quarterly action learning group report (Group report)

Whenever a new action learning group starts, a facilitator or a representative from the group (if it is a self-facilitated group) can use the quarterly action learning group report (known as the Group report) to confirm the on-going membership of the group and records what is working well / not so well along with learner progress, updates and any corrective action needed. It is normally easier to request group reports on the same day each quarter – for example, the first day of the month – 1st March, 1st June, 1st September and 1st December and if a new group started on 1st November, its first Group report would be due on 1st December and thereafter on a quarterly basis until the group completes.

Step 2: Quarterly summary report (Summary report)

If there are multiple action learning groups in progress, the GULL user representative normally finds it helpful to review a consolidated quarterly report (prepared by an administrator) that summarizes all the key issues arising during the quarter. It is recommended that a Summary report is prepared on the same day each quarter – for example, two weeks after the receipt of Group reports – e.g. 15th March, 15th June, 15th September and 15th December.

Step 3: The Annual report

The Annual report is a key strategic document, linking and interpreting the quarterly Summary reports and/or other tracking data. It should provide:

  1. A strategic overview - with a concise summary of the extent to which objectives for the year have been achieved.
  2. Commentary on the Summary reports and/or other tracking data - highlighting variances, issues and action taken or proposed.
  3. An operational overview – outlining challenges (e.g. delivery gaps, system or procedural problems).
  4. Plans for the coming year – outlining suggestions for supporting priorities.
  5. Action – needed to implement plans for the coming year.

GULL’s recommended impact tracking forms:

Group report form The quarterly action learning group report (Group report) is prepared and submitted by facilitators or by representatives from each action learning group (for self-facilitating groups). [Normally requested on 1st March, 1st June, 1st September and 1st December]
Summary report form Wherever there are multiple action learning groups in progress, it is helpful if an administrator prepares a consolidated quarterly Summary report [It is normally helpful to review these two weeks after receiving Group reports – 15th March, 15th June, 15th September and 15th December]
Annual report form A key requirement as specified by the GULL code of practice that enables GULL affiliated organizations to review outcomes over a 12 month cycle and to document successes, variances, corrective action (as appropriate) and their plan for the forthcoming year. [Annual report preparation and a review meeting date is arranged with the appropriate GULL officer]
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