Defining impact assessment

Tool Description

Step 1: Invite each person to write their ideas on small pieces of paper (one idea per piece of paper) by asking the question ‘’For me, the social impact assessment is…?” Each person can only write up to 5 ideas.

Step 2: Participants are then invited to group in pairs and discuss their ideas. Each pair should retain only 5 ideas out of the 10 (2×5 small papers). To eliminate small papers, participants can:

  • Identify common ideas and keep only one piece of paper out of the two
  • Find the links between two not quite similar ideas to recreate a new little piece of paper and thus eliminate the 2 original pieces of paper
  • Eliminate ideas marked by strong disagreement (the idea being to produce a common definition, this is not to dwell in long debates on too divisive ideas) 

Then, we start the process again: each pair gets together with another and must keep, again, only 5 ideas. And we continue, each group of 4, regroups with another group of 4. The ideal is to stop the process with a group of 16 people maximum.

It is important to consider the number of participants and adapt the structure of the small groups to make it work. For example: if there are 12 people, we form groups of 3 (rather than 2) then 6 then 12. If there are 15 people: we will form 3 groups of 3 people and 3 groups of 2 people. Each trinomial, will then be put with a pair. The instruction being that each new group must divide by 2 the total number of ideas with which it arrives to the formation of the group.

Step 3: Pooling and drafting the definition, when the last two big groups are found. The principle is no longer necessarily to eliminate ideas at all costs. Instead:

  • Similar ideas are grouped together
  • Overly divisive ideas are eliminated, when one or more participants express a particular rejection of one of them.

We designate one person from each of the two final groups to take time together and write a proposed definition based on the ideas that will have remained at the end of the process.

This definition will start with: ‘’ For us, (name of group / organization), social impact assessment is… ’’ The two representatives then present the definition to the rest of the group, collect the group’s feelings and suggestions for improvement to finalize the definition.


To create a common definition by allowing everyone to express themselves

Recommended for


30 min. to 1 hour (depending on the number of people)

Material needed

Flipchart papers, markers, smaller papers to distribute to each participant for the initial definitions

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