Lean Data Approaches to Measure Social Impact

Use low-cost technology to gain high-quality data and insights from your customers

Course Details

  • Price: FREE
  • Start Date: June 9, 2019
  • Time: 3 hours/week
  • Duration: 5 weeks
  • Partner: Acumen Lean Data Team

What You’ll Learn:

  • Identify the shortcomings of the traditional "monitoring and evaluation" mindset
  • Understand Acumen's Lean Data framework for impact measurement
  • Define the data collection opportunities in your customer journey
  • Create a streamlined survey to understand why your product, service or program is meaningful to customers
  • Identify an appropriate technology to rapidly collect data
  • Run a Lean Data sprint within your own company or organization
  • Practice presenting lean data along with insights and recommendations


Data doesn’t have to be daunting, and learning how to collect new insights to make better decisions is the catalyst for creating change.

In this course, you’ll learn Acumen’s Lean Data approach to measuring social impact, and discuss case studies from companies that have used Lean Data to gain new insights to refine their value proposition. Then you’ll select your own data collection tool, build a streamlined survey, and run a live demo with customers. This course is designed for social enterprises and non-profits who are in the early stages of building their impact strategy, and are looking for an agile, effective and low-cost way to better understand their customers and assess their social impact. It is not specifically designed for experienced monitoring and evaluation professionals – although they may find a range of useful tips and suggestions, especially with respect to remote surveying techniques such as phone calls and SMS.

From survey templates used by Acumen to step-by-step guides on organizing data, you’ll end the course by building basic data dashboards and creating an action plan to run your own Lean Data sprint.


  • Team-Based Course: We strongly encourage (but do not require) that you take the course with a team of 2-8 people. We recommend working with friends or colleagues in person.
  • Platform: NovoEd (+Acumen developed the course. We host this course on the NovoEd platform.)
  • Timing: This course will be open for 5 weeks. You can work through the materials at your own pace while the course is open. There are suggested weekly deadlines to help you stay on track. The only firm deadline is the final day of the course.

Course Syllabus

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  • 5 reading guides highlighting case studies and examples
  • 5 workshop guides to structure the development of your own Lean Data approach
  • Video tutorials from mobile survey providers
Section 1: The Lean Data Mindset
  • Video: Introduction to the Course
  • Video: The Need for Human- Centered Data Collection
  • Video: What is Lean Data?
  • Video: How Lean Data Compares to RCTs
  • Video: A Story of Lean Data in Action
  • Video: Case Study: How Lean Data Changed a Tutoring Program
  • Video: How to Define a Customer Promise
  • Reading: The Lean Data Mindset
  • Reading: What is Lean Data?
  • Reading: Why is Lean Data Needed?
  • Reading: Perceptions vs. Reality
  • Reading: Who is Lean Data for?
  • Reading: The Lean Data Approach
  • Reading: The Core Tenets of a Lean Data Approach
  • Reading: Putting Lean Data into Practice
  • Case Study: Edubridge
  • Activity: Design Your Customer Promise
  • Activity: Scope Your Lean Data Challenge
Section 2: Embedding Lean Data into Your Customer Journey
  • Video: The Typical Steps in a Lean Data Process
  • Video: What Can Lean Data Help You Learn?
  • Video: When Should You Use Lean Data?
  • Video: How to Build a Customer Journey Map
  • Reading: Embedding Lean Data into Your Customer Journey
  • Reading: Embed Lean Data into Existing Operations
  • Case Study: IkamvaYouth
  • Activity: Build Your Customer Journey Map
Section 3: Building Your Lean Data Survey
  • Video: Design Principles for a Great Lean Data Survey
  • Video: 3 Things to Avoid When Writing Surveys
  • Video: How to Formulate a Great Lean Data Question
  • Video: Introduction to Core Insight Surveys
  • Reading: Build Your Lean Survey
  • Reading: Crafting the Right Questions
  • Reading: Rules of Thumb for Developing Lean Data Surveys
  • Reading: Two Standard Questions to Consider Asking—NPS and CES Scores
  • Reading: Final Words of Advice
  • Case Study: Dr. Consulta
  • Activity: Draft Your Survey Questions
Section 4: Pick Your Technology
  • Video: Overview of Remote Surveying Techniques
  • Video: Overview of Mobile Surveys
  • Video: Overview of Phone Surveys
  • Video: Overview of Interactive Voice Response
  • Video: Overview of Online Survey Tools
  • Video: How to Select the Right Technology to Use With Your Survey
  • Video: How to Calculate Sample Size
  • Video: The Pros and Cons of Self- Reported Data
  • Video: Addressing Cultural and Linguistic Differences
  • Reading: Pick Your Technology
  • Reading: A Mobile Phone in Every Pocket
  • Reading: 6 Primary Ways to Survey People
  • Reading: Specific Technology Recommendations
  • Reading: Best Practices
  • Reading: Lessons from the Field
  • Case Study: Solar Now
  • Activity: Choose Your Technology
Section 5: Implement, Embed, Share
  • Video: Case Study: How Lean Data Was Embedded in a Solar Company
  • Video: How to Start Analyzing Your Data
  • Video: How to Take Lean Data Forward
  • Reading: Making Decisions Based on Data
  • Reading: Moving from Data Collection to Building a Customer Insights Engine
  • Activity: Start Surveying
  • Activity: Create a Micro Lean Data Presentation
  • Activity: Summary Deck
The course already started. Can I still enroll?
You can enroll up to 2 weeks after the start date of the course.
When will the next course be offered?
We offer our courses a few times a year. Sign up for our emails to be notified of the next time the course will be offered.
Do I get a certificate for this course?
You will earn a Statement of Accomplishment if you complete 5 of 6 assignments, including the final assignment, by the last day of the course.
How do teams work?
We recommend you find friends or colleagues for your team that you can meet with in person each week. Each team member should register for the course individually. You’ll then be able to form your team on the NovoEd platform once the course begins.
Do I have to complete the course with a team?
While we believe taking the course with a team will give you the best experience and chance of completing the course, it is possible to complete the course individually if you wish.
What should I expect from the assignments?
You will create a Life Map, develop your own personal story, integrate it into a larger presentation, and record your presentation for feedback from your classmates. You should allocate at least one hour a week to complete each assignment.

Get Updates About Lean Data

The next session of Lean Data will begin on June 9, 2020.

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Supported By

For more than 100 years, The Rockefeller Foundation’s mission has been to promote the well-being of humanity throughout the world. Together with partners and grantees, The Rockefeller Foundation strives to catalyze and scale transformative innovations, create unlikely partnerships that span sectors, and take risks others cannot –or will not. For more information, please visit www.rockefellerfoundation.org

Acumen is changing the way the world tackles poverty by investing in companies, leaders and ideas. In 2014, Acumen created Lean Data, a new standard for how impact measurement can add value to customers, companies, and investors, and does so at a fraction of the cost of other approaches. https://acumen.org/lean-data/

60 Decibels makes it easy to listen to the people who matter most. Our Lean DataSM approach turns customer voice into high-value insights that help businesses maximize their impact. We have a network of 120+ trained Lean DataSM researchers in 30+ countries who speak directly to customers to understand their lived experience. By combining voice, SMS, and other technologies to collect data remotely with proprietary survey tools, we help clients listen more effectively and benchmark their social performance against their peers.

What People Are Saying

Emma Lalley, New Story’s Global Impact Manager

“The course was incredibly helpful. It was also a great platform for meeting people from non-profits and social enterprises working on similar challenges.”

Emma Lalley, New Story’s Global Impact Manager