The Bachelor could be used as a barometer for the success of the social impact sector. Crazy? Maybe. But if success for our sector means we have a culture that expects and rewards work in support of positive social outcomes, we should be able to watch our results primetime.
In a recent bid to join the Chicago Ideas Week Co-Op, a creative flourish in an application essay resulted in a groundbreaking insight for Quarterback: The Bachelor should be our barometer of success.
Why? Well, mission-accomplished for Quarterback means that we have a professional culture that expects and rewards high-impact support for social causes. The Bachelor can tell us how we’re tracking against that goal.
Why look there? Two reasons:
1) We’re trying to create a WAVE of change–one that will be evident in culture,
2) We’re not acting alone–so we need metrics we can all watch.
In my application, I actually wrote (and sent) the following:
Quarterback wants to see a season of The Bachelor where the first 100 eliminations are because the contestants don’t have a legacy of social impact.
While certainly tongue-in-cheek, the line has stuck with me. As Quarterback continues to explore opportunities to quantify its impact and progress on its mission–and our partners in the sector do the same–the measure of culture change may be the most telling. So for Quarterback (and the sector), The Bachelor might be our best barometer of success.
Creating a WAVE of Change
Changing behavior on the scale of an entire market is incredibly challenging. For evidence, one only needs to look as far as smoking cessation or the obesity epidemic. But that of course doesn’t mean it’s not worthwhile.
Since the beginning, Quarterback’s stated mission has been to make high-impact service a “personal priority and professional imperative.” We envision a future where professionals automatically search out service to build their skills and make an impact. And just as importantly, a world where hiring managers scour resumes for high-impact service experience and push those without to go get some.
That’s a change from the status quo. We see that as improved sector behavior (our partners have certainly benefitted).
So, if we assume pop culture mirrors the society creating it (and not the other way around), then it fully embodies that culture’s pervasive attitudes. We can readily see this. Pop culture reinforces fashion trends or, more relevant to Quarterback, determines which careers are cool. It puts a spotlight on what matters (or is supposed to matter).
If Quarterback is successful in making high-impact, intensive service a personal priority and a professional imperative, then we will be able to measure our success in cultural norms (or, in this case, by how The Bachelor selects potential mates). We’ll hear things in interviews (or on dates) about “empathetic leadership,” “effecting change,” and “personal contributions to the greater good.”
Is this an unconventional metric? Unequivocally, yes. But an unconventional and diverse movement needs one.
We’re not alone–metrics to watch
Across the social impact sector incredible organizations are working to make high-impact service a larger part of our culture. While Quarterback is laser-focused on a niche market in mobilizing people for good (high-achieving professionals on the MBA track) and partners with others with similar or complimentary focus, our peers add the required diversity of mission and market that is required to address our culture as a whole.
This diversity comes with a cost: comparability. Despite a continuing movement toward quantitative assessment of impact and increased transparency, the sector hasn’t decided on a universal metric for the public’s involvement in social good causes. While numerous efforts are underway to define such a metric, we, as a sector, have to look for other indicators of progress. Pop culture could be one.
The Bachelor is neutral territory for the entire sector and, while it doesn’t provide quantitative evidence, it could provide a telling glimpse into our sector’s collective impact on the public psyche.
So what if pop culture all of a sudden aligned with our values? What would that look like? It would mean The Bachelor refuses to give out roses to people without a legacy of impactful service. It would mean careers in the impact sector would be highlighted in romcoms. It would mean the spread of social values from the nonprofit sector into business. It would mean we begun to turn the powerful flywheel of public opinion and behavior.
So, could The Bachelor be a (admittedly bizarre) barometer of success for our mission or that of other? Certainly. Could it replace our emphasis on quantitative impact assessment? Absolutely not. However, you might have some better luck getting volunteers to keep an eye on it.
Already see the change? Share your experience or evidence in the comments!