Big wins — laws passed, regulations announced, policy positions changed, shifts in corporate strategy — can clearly demonstrate the impact of your research and thinking. They are the stuff of grant proposals and annual reports and case studies.
What about small wins? How do we report their impact? How do we measure their worth?
Is this about accounting? Or building a dynamic?
By small I mean those discrete signs that your research and thinking are gaining traction. You get a panel invitation based on your latest paper or thread. A policymaker uses one of your charts in a presentation. An opinion writer draws heavily on your background interview for their latest column (but, alas, fails to quote you). Your organization suddenly gets a spate of inbound calls, asking for your experts’ perspectives on a new crisis.
Small wins are nice. We enjoy them. But we’re in a hurry to make change. If these small wins don’t soon start rolling up into bigger ones, they’re likely to gnaw at us. We might worry how or whether to account for them.
What we miss: Each small win already is something big. A positive market signal.
Or, if market-speak makes you uncomfortable: They are signs that a lot more people could benefit from the generosity of your expertise.
Small wins are potentially huge because they are, in fact, that rare sign that others will be interested in your idea or insight. Where there’s one — especially one we care about — there will probably be more.
But only if we spread the insight more widely. Amplify it.
The shared chart? Build a mini social-campaign around it.
The talking points from your background interview? Build opinion content around them. Use them on your next podcast.
Those inbound calls? Bullet point your perspective on the crisis and share it to your list.
Small wins tend to be timely, so they usually have a shelf life. That shelf life varies from case to case. But it’s not forever. So it’s best not to wait.
I am also partial to amplifying small wins visually, because people share the visual — whether a figure or a quote — more readily. But it’s not a rule.
The only rule is to relentlessly amplify your small wins, to see how much bigger they can become.
Research impact isn’t a linear process. It’s a network dynamic, built through frequency, amplification and connection to nodes. The small win is just a big win that hasn’t been networked yet. That hasn’t yet been relentlessly amplified.