The Impact Gaps Canvas was designed to help people learn about a problem before jumping in to try to solve it. This is a tool that can be used by anyone who wants to understand the landscape of a problem and possibly identify some paths to how they might contribute to a solution.
Print or draw out the Impact Gaps Canvas. It’s available for download on this webpage.
The questions on the left can help you understand and map out the problem (who or what is impacted, what is holding the current status quo in place and who stands to be negatively impacted if the problem is solved, what other issues this problem is related to, the history of the problem, etc).
You can use the questions on the right to help you map out the “solutions landscape” (what has already been tried, what has worked and what hasn’t, how are these efforts connected and building upon each other, what future efforts are planned, etc).
In the middle, is the “Impact Gap”. You can explore this gap from the 30,000 foot level (what is missing in the whole ecosystems of the solutions landscape, what could connect up these efforts, what regulation might be needed, how can lessons be shared, what types of efforts are broadly missing, etc) or to explore the gaps in individual efforts more explicitly (why did these efforts fail, what gaps are they missing in more completely solving the problem, what parts of their model can be tweaked to add more impact for more people, etc).
In the end, you will identify some lessons learned that you can use to either focus your own career path (perhaps helping you identify organizations with which you want to work in order to best use your skills to impact change) or to help you build your own solutions efforts (in which case you might then want to move on to a business model canvas or other more solution-focused mapping tool).
The third image below is of a possible learning journey of someone who is working to align their career decisions with positive impact. It focuses on the three areas you might want to develop in order to find a you-shaped hole in the world: understanding yourself (knowing your strengths, your interests, your risk tolerance, etc), understanding a problem (the issues, context, and solutions landscape of the problems you care about), and gaining valuable skills (skills which relate to your ideal job role that might include anything from impact measurement to collaboration skills).