Using Theory of Change to Lever Change: Experience from the CGIAR


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Presented by Boru Douthwaite, Principal Scientist on the CGIAR Research Program on Aquatic Agricultural Systems (AAS) at WorldFish.

Working with staff and stakeholders to think through how research can bring about development outcomes can change how projects and partnerships are planned, implemented, monitored and evaluated to increase their likelihood of success. Experience from the CGIAR shows that realizing this potential depends on facilitation and timing more than theory and formats. This seminar examines the important dos and don’ts of using theory of change to foster change from experience from two CGIAR programs.

Boru Douthwaite was previously the former Innovation and Impact Director at the Challenge Program on Water and Food and a Senior Scientist at CIAT, where he developed the Participatory Impact Pathways Analysis (PIPA) approach, which is used by the STEPS Centre’s projects.

This seminar is being held jointly with the Centre for Development Impact.

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Using Theory of Change to Lever Change: Experience from the CGIAR

  1. 1. Using ToC to leverchangeBoru DouthwaiteSTEPS/CDI Seminar, University of Sussex, 25 April, 2013
  2. 2. Impact pathways matter
  3. 3. 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
  4. 4. The mechanism through a systemsperspective
  5. 5. Intervention 1: Innovation Histories
  6. 6. Participatory Innovation Histories
  7. 7. 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
  8. 8. CPWF’s need for ex-ante impactassessment
  9. 9. 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
  10. 10. 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
  11. 11. Constructing a ProblemTree
  12. 12. DrawingNetwork Maps ofwho is funding,carrying out theresearch,scaling-out andscaling-upproject outputs
  13. 13. Adding ‘PowerTowers’ toshow differinginfluence ofactors
  14. 14. 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
  15. 15. Outcome Logic Model from WorkshopOutputs
  16. 16. 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
  17. 17. It is all about the timing …
  18. 18. 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?