Long Read
5 November 2015

90 years Simavi: changes over the years

In ninety years the world has changed enormously and Simavi has changed accordingly. On the occasion of our 90th anniversary, we hosted an informal networking event to reflect on transformation and impact.

Simavi’s Managing Director, Ariette Brouwer, took us on a journey back in time. She led us across some historical milestones in Simavi’s work and shared our ambition for the future. Ariette: “Simavi wants to improve the basic health of 10 million people in Africa and Asia by 2020, in a sustainable way in line with Sustainable Development Goals, because we believe that health is the stepping stone out of poverty.”

Furthermore, Ariette emphasised the importance of impact measurement in development cooperation: “We measure every step of our theory of change, because only if we work in a sustainable way we can be successful. We’re proud to currently work with the Erasmus University to really develop evidence based programmes.”

Impact with aspiration

How to change the (mis)understanding about impact measurement

During the event, Kellie Liket, researcher at the Erasmus University, was invited to share her thoughts about impact measurement. She is on a mission to change the (mis)understanding of civil society and donors about impact measurement. Kellie: “It is not the question how much impact, but where can you have more impact. Where can you have most impact. Impact with aspiration.”

Kellie Liket talked about impact measurement.

She argued that people limit themselves to think about impact as solely an accountability question. “In the impact discussion, we focus on measurement. How many water pumps? How many midwives? We do something, measure it and tell if it is a lot, a little or nothing.”

According to Kellie, the power of impact is in the question: how we can have more impact? What do we really want to achieve? What is the evidence base of the choices we make? And which route is most cost-effective? It is only at the end that you look where the gaps are and then measure. That is the journey she is currently taking with Simavi at the moment. Kellie: “Simavi dares to ask itself: how can we have most impact? What are we going to do to have more? Then the real power of impact is unleashed.”

Jan Rotmans about Society 3.0

Jan Rotmans talked about sustainable transitions.

Over the years, Simavi has been able to transform and reinvent the organisation continuously. he changes our society is currently going through, according to Jan Rotmans, Professor of Transitions and Transition Management.  During the event, he talked about sustainable transitions and system innovation.

He argued that we are in a change of eras comparable to the Industrial Revolution in the 19th century: “We are moving towards Society 3.0: decentralised, bottom-up, flexible and with small networks instead of a society dominated by bureaucracy and large companies. A more modern process organisation in development aid is very horizontal, project driven, small and self-steering.”

Read more about his vision in our interview with Jan Rotmans.

Front-runner with transition process

“Simavi is a niche player in the development field”

Jan Rotmans noticed: “In transition terms, Simavi is a niche player in the development field because you are a relatively small size and a flexible organisation. Simavi is absolutely a front-runner with the transition process you have already been going through. This has resulted in a new mission, vision and strategy with a clear goal.”

We will continue transforming and developing our organisation and work, ultimately hoping that towards 2030 it will not be necessary anymore.

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3 Questions

Jan Rotmans, Professor of Transitions and Transition Management, stirred our minds by sharing his vision about the transition our society is currently going through. He argues that we are in a change of eras comparable to the Industrial Revolution in the 19th century. Jan believes that  we are moving towards Society 3.0: decentralised, bottom-up, flexible and with small networks instead of a society dominated by bureaucracy and large companies.  We asked Jan what these changes will mean for organisations and individuals in the development sector.