Theory of Change
Beneficiary / Participants
Can be used with all beneficiaries and stakeholders - groups of 3-25 people.
Common Goal: Participatory outcome mapping process, to reach a stakeholders common desire for a transformation - ‘the change they want to see in the world’ - that is, an outcome and its intermediate goals, as a pathway to change Allows strategic Action planning - and designed with results and indicators, is a tool for Monitoring the implementation.
Description of the method
A tool to map the outcomes and transformation that any given community or group wants to achieve. The method starts by drawing the general, intangible outcome and draws a backwards road to change - by answering the question 'what specific outcomes have to happen before this one, to allow for it to be achieved?'. Theory of Change also allows for action planning: once the road to achieve the outcomes is agreed, a plan can be devised for the best, most tailor-designed actions and outputs to deliver such results which will contribute to achieve the desired outcome.
This method allows project planners and practitioners to escape the traditional log-frame, taking the focus away from the delivery of actions and designing these to serve the change they want to achieve. Action planning can also include indicators for each outcome and results for every activity, allowing for monitoring and following up the impact of that community/project/ programme.
A facilitator for the group process is essential - and deciding if the resulting map or pathway of transformation is the ideal method for the group. Starting by drawing the general, intangible outcome - the group finds that general, ‘miss universe’ kind of wish. Then, from this intangible change or outcome, the facilitator must lead the group to think: what concrete, material outcomes / changes, will bring the community closer to this big wish? After this concrete general changes, the facilitator must lead the group to draw the backwards road to change - by answering the question 'what specific outcomes have to happen before this one, to allow for it to be achieved?'. When the group has reached only concrete tasks and activities, it’s ready to review and to validate/test with other stakeholders or the whole community. Later phase can build the action plan (activities that make each change concrete).
Min. 1 day / 8h - ideally several sessions in a 1-2 months process
- One experienced facilitator (easier if with an external perspective)
- drawing material, either digital or analogical (markers, post-its and flipcharts)
- meeting room