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Boru Douthwaite: Theory of Change to lever change

Boru Douthwaite: Theory of Change to lever change



STEPS/Centre for Development Impact seminar, 25 April 2013.

STEPS/Centre for Development Impact seminar, 25 April 2013.



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  • Because we rarely look at the whole system, the majority of our efforts tend to focus on problems which are merely symptoms of deeper directions in society and nature relationships. In this regard Voros (2005) reminds us of the metaphorical ‘‘iceberg’’ model of systems thinking (Figure 1), which depicts problems perceived in the outside world as simply the visible part of a much larger and mostly-hidden ‘‘iceberg’’.  ‘‘Patterns and trends’’ are depicted as submerged just below the water-line, while the underlying system ‘‘drivers’’ or system ‘‘structure’’ that reflect the predominant social paradigm are considered an even deeper and unseen part of the iceberg.
  • 2005Program with unrealistic impact claimsWanting to show how it would reach themFrom pilot projects

Boru Douthwaite: Theory of Change to lever change Boru Douthwaite: Theory of Change to lever change Presentation Transcript

  • Using ToC to leverchangeBoru DouthwaiteSTEPS/CDI Seminar, University of Sussex, 25 April, 2013
  • Impact pathways matter
  • Mechanism• Using Realistic Evaluation definition (Pawson and Tilley, 1997)• The mechanism– Make ‘theory in use’ explicit– Reflect on its validity– Narrow gap with ‘espoused theory’ (Argyris & Schön 1974)– Start to change mental modelsOutcomeMechanismInterventionTriggersContextIntervention triggers a mechanism to produce impact in a context
  • The mechanism through a systemsperspective
  • Intervention 1: Innovation Histories
  • Participatory Innovation Histories
  • Experience with Innovation Histories• Worked well – Researcher learning– Depth of insight– Theory building– Triggers other mechanisms• Didn’t work so well – Changing practice– Shared learning• Insight– Politics– Rear view mirror smaller than windscreen
  • CPWF’s need for ex-ante impactassessment
  • Intervention 2: PIPA• Innovation histories written from the future• Synthesis of concepts and tools from:– Program Evaluation Renger and Titcomb (2002) – problem trees Chen (2005) – program theory Mayne (2004) - performance stories Douthwaite et al. (2003 and 2007) – impact pathway evaluation inintegrated weed management in Northern Nigeria– Innovation histories Douthwaite and Ashby, 2005– Appreciative Inquiry Whitney and Trosten-Bloom, 2003– Social network analysis Cross and Parker, 2004; Rick Davies
  • WorkshopRoad Map1. Problem Tree2. Outcomes Tree3. Vision6. Project impact pathways4. "Now"network mapWhat the project should helpachieveCurrentarrangement ofactors working onPH in CambodiaHelps understand case rationaleand what needs to changeProblemanalysisIntegration5. Key changes requiredto achieve VisionStakeholderanalysisThe changes the project can help achieve, who will change andproject strategies to bring changes aboutPIPA Process to surface and communicateproject impact pathways in Vietnam
  • Constructing a ProblemTree
  • DrawingNetwork Maps ofwho is funding,carrying out theresearch,scaling-out andscaling-upproject outputs
  • Adding ‘PowerTowers’ toshow differinginfluence ofactors
  • Developing a Scaling Strategy(Table 2)Describe the mostimportantdifferences betweenthe two networksWhy is the changeimportant toachieve the vision?What are theproject’s strategiesfor achieving thechange?Exercise6a
  • Outcome Logic Model from WorkshopOutputs
  • Reflection on PIPA• What works well– Space for reflection– Provides a language, set of concepts to link research toimpact– Built a contending coalition Happy synchronicity• What didn’t work so well– Making OLMs a contract requirement
  • It is all about the timing …
  • Next Steps• Revive PIPA– Web site– Community of practice• Measuring the impacts of PIPA• In CGIAR Research Program on Aquatic Agricultural Systems– PIPA adapted• In STEPS?• STEPS/CDI – AAS Collaboration?