Growing performance from a fine crop of data: NewForesight and the Syngenta Foundation

The future of agriculture depends on innovation. The world expects its farmers to feed a growing and increasingly demanding population, whilst they also take good care of the environment. Achieving either of those goals is a growing challenge and requires the entire food supply chain to innovate. Recently, we partnered with a frontrunner organization working in exactly this area: the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture (SFSA), whose strategy is focused on innovation, delivery, and the scale up of sustainable solutions in smallholder agriculture. We believe SFSA is a frontrunner because they share our belief in systems change, are innovative and see farmers and their farming communities as clients. NewForesight & SFSA have a similar vision of approaching service delivery towards farmers as a business, and looking for market-based solutions to sustainability challenges. In our work together we are designing a system which will enable SFSA to measure how its activities contribute towards sector change, by tracking performance and impact over time.


How the Syngenta Foundation contributes to a thriving and inclusive agricultural market system

SFSA aims to increase agricultural productivity and improve the profitable inclusion of smallholder farmers in agricultural value chains. The Foundation works with ‘pre-commercial’ farmers in Africa, Asia, and Latin America who display potential for agricultural growth and want to enhance their farming business. SFSA focuses on initiating and scaling up projects together with a wide range of partners in both the public and the private sector.

“Improving how we measure our impact will guide our future decisions. It will enable us to compare our innovations better with others, and identify those that bring smallholders the greatest success. In addition, we plan to invest more efforts in reflection on programs’ lasting legacy and impact several years after they end.” – Simon Winter, Director of the Syngenta Foundation, written in the 2016-2018 Review

Designing the Theory of Change for SFSA’s global activities

SFSA’s work is centered around three streams: agribusiness, seeds, and insurance. The goal in each of these streams is similar: to support and contribute to the creation of thriving and inclusive agricultural market systems. NewForesight supported SFSA with the design of a Performance Measurement System (PMS) which will enable better cross-departmental alignment, Foundation-wide tracking and reporting of results, and continuous improvement. Together with a core team at SFSA, NewForesight first supported the organization to develop a Theory of Change to check causal logic between work undertaken and its contribution to SFSA’s overarching impact. The Theory of Change creates internal alignment at SFSA. This ensures that all the teams’ activities reinforce each other and together help achieve the organization’s vision.

To move from theory to practice, we then translated the Theory of Change into Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to track data from SFSA’s operations globally. This ensures the right data continuously plugged into the measurement system to show the progress of individual activities and the Foundation as a whole towards its desired goals. Simultaneously, the SFSA Learning Agenda has been set up to provide a platform to share success and areas of improvement, and create a transparent culture. By adding this learning aspect to the measurement system, there is a space for novel and innovative ideas to be shared both internally and externally, necessary to foster improvement within SFSA and offer learnings to influence transformation across the sector.

The crucial steps in performance measurement: taking your organization from vision to impact

In short, developing a Performance Measurement approach, on an organizational or multi-stakeholder level, includes the following steps:

  • Define the long-term and overarching vision and Theory of Change and its supporting KPI framework.
  • Map the indicators that work at different levels of the organization, and define a small number of crucial indicators that provide the right insights into your unique impact as an organization.
  • Define a working strategy around the measurement system to ensure the right management of data and a learning agenda to continuously improve.
  • Ensure the system is designed to function as a living system to enable continuous improvement based on shared learning, data and insights.
  • Build ownership and capacity of the system within the organization to ensure that it can successfully be implemented.

Two reasons why you should collaborate with NewForesight to measure and boost your performance:

  1. Our NewForesight consultants understand your organization, your partners and the sector you are active in and effectively design an approach to integrate performance measurement in your way of working.
  2. NewForesight combines years of experience in developing competitive sustainability strategies with excellent skills in data and analytics, connecting all data-points in your organization. All data gets productively used.


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