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Posts tagged ‘Outcome Mapping’

A few tools and manuals from IDRC

I have added a few tools and manuals to the Manuals Page, these courtesy of IDRC:

IDRC recommends a few manuals and tools for researchers that can be found in their website. They include:

Programming for complexity: how to get past ‘horses for courses’

Harry Jones, from the RAPID Programme, summarises and comments on a series of discussions that his work on complexity is generating. He tackles the ‘horses for courses’ argument addressing two important questions. Firstly, and most obviously: how do you choose the right horse for your course? Whether we’re talking about policy instruments, evaluation methods, or gambling on horses this will never be an easy question. Secondly: what are we arguing against? Implicitly ‘horses for courses’ is cast against a ‘blueprint approach’, where a few standardised solutions (whether tools, methods, or more generally types of programmes) are rolled out to be implemented in diverse contexts irrespective of contexts.

Read more

Theories of change: an annotated review of documents and views

A few weeks ago, Jeff Knezovich, asked the members of the evidence based policy in development community for some feedback on the way in which Theories of Change (ToC) were being used in planning, monitoring and evaluation of policy research interventions. The response was quite encouraging and many resources were shared.

In my view, ToCs can be a powerful planning, monitoring and evaluation tool but often interventions focusing on research based policy influence forget to base their ‘theories’ –which I have called change pathways elsewhere–  on actual research of how (policy) change happens.As a consequence, the ToC sounds and looks brilliant -perfectly logical- but it is terribly irrelevant for the context in which it will be deployed: e.g. online communication in Sierra Leone (where there is hardly any electricity) or media dissemination in Zambia (where the public and private newspapers have polarised opinion so much that it would be difficult to get a neutral take at politically sensitive evidence, or having he same ToC for interventions in Latin America, Africa and Asia (or even within Latin America Africa and Asia).

Anyone attempting to develop a ToC would do well do first reflect on how policy change happens -and by this I do not mean a quick two hour session in a workshop. This should be the most important part of any planning process. And do not be afraid to be challenged. It is not supposed to be easy. If it was, we would not be spending all this money (and it is a lot of money) to try to influence policy.

In this post I am collecting some of comments and resources shared in the community as well as other that I have found in other sites (for example, a post by Kris Putnam-Walkerly in early 2010 with 10 great resources).

Here is a synthesis of the resources and the comments from the contributors to the online debate (if you have any more to add please do) and from other sources too (references included):

Simon Hearn:

My favourite paper on this subject is by Doug Reeler of CDRA, not so much of a how-to but he lays out some very interesting theories of how social change happens.

There’s also these links:

Jennifer Morfín, offered some key readings:

Francisco Perez offered a reflection:

I just want to write a little note on the theory of change issue from my 11 years working on impact assessment of Public Programs and NGOs.[Note, Francisco is based in Nicaragua.]

Theory of change is a basic element of every development intervention; indeed what we have found is that those programs with a week theory of change, tend to be just wasted money. A second important issue is that these projects have no-clear cut scenarios and variables to monitor changes in the context.

Now, for public policy influence, we clearly need a map of actors; however, our argument should come from a theory of change supported by evidence. For instance, if we promote a land management plan in order to protect water basins. Thus our argument has a theory of change behind; we are saying that if we have an appropriated use of soils, we will not have water scarcity. So, even if we do focus on incidence only, we should have a strong and sticky argument or idea to promote with a theory behind it.

A note from me: What Francisco is suggesting as well is that the Theory of Change –in this case, the pathway of actions, outputs, outcomes and impacts expected- need to be based on a sound theory of how change actually happens. And this is no simple matter.

Lori Heise, also contributed with some personal experience:

I think one of the challenges Jeff is alluding to is how best to apply these notions to the particular program structure that he is referring to, which is a DFID’s research programme consortium.  These are large 5-6 year collaborations between research institutions that commit to work jointly on a particular theme or challenge (like health impacts of climate change — or the one I lead, which is tackling structural drivers of HIV).  The problem is that the goal of the program is to influence policy and practice through generating and applying new knowledge.  The collaboration is rather diffuse and depends on leveraging funds from many other sources.  Such projects require a theory a change about how you believe evidence influences policy change in a particular setting and/or at the global level.  The reality is that evidence is seldom the defining feature driving policy in my experience, although of course our goal is to work toward having it be a greater factor in the future.

So, is DFID’s theory of change for the RPC design wrong? Or at least in need of a revision?

Tionge Saka reminded us that:

Weiss (1998) explains that the term program theory refers to the mechanisms that mediate between the delivery (and receipt) of a program and the emergence of outcomes of interest. There are two kinds of theory and these are, program theory and implementation theory. These two intertwine in the evolution of the program and the combination of these two is called program’s theories of change. A programme theory usually includes

  • Programme inputs such as resources and organizational auspices
  • Programme activities which represent the manner in which the program is being implemented
  • Interim outcomes – that is the chain of responses the activities elicit, which are expected to lead to
  • Desired results

Rick Davies shared Patricia Rogers new book: Purposeful Program Theory: Effective Use of Theories of Change and Logic Models

David McDonald recommended:

An outstanding book on this topic has recently been published:

Funnell, SC & Rogers, PJ 2011, Purposeful program theory: effective use of theories of change and logic models, Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, CA that comes with a companion website.

From Regina Gyampoh-Vidogah:

According to ActKnowledge, a Theory of Change defines all the building blocks required to bring about a long-term goal. ‘Like any good planning and evaluation method for social change, it requires participants to be clear on long-term goals, identify measurable indicators of success, and formulate actions to achieve goals.’

And the toolkit: Theory of Change: A Practical Tool For Action, Results and Learning, prepared by Organizational Research Services

Donna Loveridge also noted that:

As with many terms theory of change can mean different things. The evaluation literature has quite a bit on theories of change and while the ideas have been around for several decades they are getting greater currency/more discussion in the last few years.

  • Huey Chen (1990: 40) defines theory as a ‘set of interrelated assumptions, principles, and/or propositions to explain or guide social action’.
  • van der Knaap (2004) refers to theory as the collection of assumptions, norms and values regarding the causal links between a program’s actions and the outcomes. These definitions differ from the standard positivist-scientific theories.
  • Shadish (1987: 95) describes program theory as ‘hunches and intuition built on common sense and on accumulated professional wisdom and experience about the nature of social programs and how they change’.

Theories may relate to social science theories but may not. In relation to research/knowledge, perhaps ideas or assumptions around research influence and use might be worth exploring (I am more familiar with the literature on evaluation use but can see that there are probably similarities. – see Kirkhart, K. E. (2000) Reconceptualizing evaluation use: an integrated theory of influence. New Directions for Evaluation, 88).

If research/knowledge is linked to policy influence, I have found this document quite useful. Maybe another area to look at is knowledge and learning.

Other references that you may find useful include:

R2D offered a synthesis of the resources here as well as others. Some of the ones that they added on their own include:

A guide to monitoring and evaluating policy influence.The following article written by Harry Jones at ODI has a very useful introduction to the three  of the most common approaches to theories of change: causal path, dimensions of influence and actor-centred theories.

Keystone have developed some useful resources on how to develop a theory of change, plus they also provide a useful template to start developing your own theory.

  • Theory of Change guide A guide to developing a theory of change as a framework for inclusive dialogue, learning and accountability for social impact.
  • Theory of Change template This interactive PDF template allows you to input information directly into it to build your theory of change.

The Social Framework developed by Rick Davies is an actor centred approach that attempts to map pathways to change through different actors and their relationships to each other.

Predating all of this, the Philanthropy411 Blog posted 10 great resources for creating a theory of change in March 2010:

For general information about what a Theory of Change is and some examples:

  1. Theory of Change As A Tool For Strategic Planning introduces the use of the Theory of Change approach for planning community-based initiatives using examples from the The Wallace Foundation Parents and Communities for Kids (PACK) initiative.
  2. Theory of is a collaborative project of the Aspen Institute and ActKnowledge, offering a wide array of resources, tools, tips, and examples of Theory of Change.
  3. ActKnowledge is currently piloting Theory of Change Online (TOCO), a free, web-based application to create Theories of Change and to learn more about the methodology.
  4. They’ve also provided a guided example of how one Theory of Change was developed.
  5. You Can Get There From Here: Using a Theory of Change Approach to Plan Urban Education Reform” by James Connell and Adema Klem gives an overview and an example in the field of education

For useful manuals, facilitators’ guides, and tools to create a Theory of Change:

  1. The International Network on Strategic Philanthropy has a Theory of Change Tool Manual.
  2. Theory of Change: A Practical Tool for Action, Results and Learning” was created under the guidance of Tom Kelly (@tomkaecf) at the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
  3. The Aspen Institute’s Roundtable on Community Change created “The Community Builder’s Approach to Theory of Change,” which is a practical guide for facilitators, including what to do before and during meetings with stakeholders, suggested participants, and recommended materials.

And to better understand the difference between a Theory of Change and a Logic Model check out:

  1. GrantCraft created “Mapping Change: Using a Theory of Change Approach to Guide Planning.” (BTW, GrantCraft has produced terrific guides on all aspects of grantmaking, so you should definitely check them out)
  2. Theories of Change and Logic Models: Telling Them Apart” is a helpful PowerPoint presentation.
One of the comments to Kris’ blog, I think, deserves special attention (by Holger):

We are living in a world that is ruled by laws of complexity and dominated by an ever increasing degree of uncertainty. However, projects are still managed from a reductionist and mechanistic viewpoint. So far, there have only few simple and applicable models that help organizations to look at their change projects from a complexity viewpoint.

That’s not a model, and even less so a theory. I am more interested in a meta model that helps people to find their own theory of change. For that, we have developed the Change Journey (

The Change Journey is a radical approach to change. It is based on the paradigm that change in organizations is not a linear path from A to B. We offer a tool for developing a specific change model: The Change Journey Map. The Map is inclusive – which means whatever tools and models and theory you are used to can be incorporated.

OM community webinar: Systems Concepts and Outcome Mapping

Last week the Outcome Mapping Learning Community hosted the third OM community webinar: Systems Concepts and Outcome Mapping.

Simon Hearn sent this summary:

We were fortunate enough to have Richard Hummelbrunner and Bob Williams presenting some of the ideas from their new book: Systems Concepts in Action: A Practitioners Toolkit – which features a chapter on Outcome Mapping (you can read an article they wrote in our previous newsletter). Their presentation introduced three systems concepts – inter-relationships, perspectives and boundaries – and discussed OM as a systems tool in relation to these. They also provided some interesting reflections on OM, some of which I’ll mention here but the rest you can read in their presentation, which can be downloaded here.


Three systems concepts and how OM deals with them:
– OM deals with inter-relationships very well
– Perspectives take into account three different notions: stakes, stakeholders and framings. OM deals with stakeholders very clearly but doesn’t distinguish the stakes or framings that are held. E.g. different stakeholders (or in the case of OM, BPs) can have the same stakes (motivations, agenda’s or drivers) but they may also have conflicting stakes. Analysing the stakes is an important systems tool. Framings are important because the same situation can be understood in different ways depending on the angle chosen – this will depend on the stakes and stakeholders.
– Boundaries are everywhere; every decision we make defines boundaries and these have important consequences. OM tends to deal with boundaries in terms of influence of stakeholders (cf boundary partners) and could benefit by taking a broader view about what is valued and what is not, who’s in and who’s not.

Advantages of OM:
– good at clarifying stakeholder roles
– especially useful for interventions where capacity building plays a major role
– well suited for interventions involving complex change processes
– integrates learning and reflection in the design of interventions

– demands for data collection (journals) can be challenging
– focus on boundary partners neglects relevance of other actors
– difficult and time consuming to accommodate, especially for newcomers


We were able to take a number of questions in the webinar but there were some that we had to leave unanswered due to time. Here’s a quick summary of some of the questions that we addressed, and below that is a list of unanswered questions that Bob and Richard have agreed to follow up on.

Q (Ricardo Wilson-Grau): How flexible is systems thinking? Can we just apply one of the concepts are still be confident we are working systemically?
A: No, they are a set. It’s the way systems methods deal with these concepts make them distinctive and recognisable. There is not always a balance in the way a method deals with these but they will touch on each concept.

Q (Samuel Sanders): When you say system do you mean LFA (logframes)?
A: No. Logframes are a way of expressing the intentions of a project/programme. When assessing the tool against the three concepts, it deals with interrelationships somewhat, perspectives a little and boundaries not at all.

Q (George de Gooijer): If you limit frames here to stakes and stakeholders, I think it is too limited. Where does ‘history’ come in to this (the change in behaviour sought by OM is very much influenced by inferences/prejudices that are the consequence of the history of a situation/person/society).
A: Stakes can be seen as a product of history. This isn’t explicitly acknowledged- possibly a weakness in this model. There are methods that explore historical issues specifically: cultural historical activity theory – a way of understand how contradictions between the past and present affect motivations towards a goal.

Q (Samuel Sanders): Why hasn’t om yet been widely used in M&E? And are there anything that one must especially keep in mind when using OM to follow up results and coming to conclusions on effectiveness? (in response to a comment by Ricardo that we far less about how OM is used for M&E than for intentional design)
A: OM has been seen as a planning instrument as a substitute for the logframe. There’s less emphasis on M&E, possible for practical reasons – donors fund plans.

Q (Douglass Orr): Are the presenters aware of any documented applications of systems concepts for analysing power relationships ? Could they recommend any ? Thanks.
A: Critical systems heuristics and the work of Martin Reynolds comes to mind. This area of systems thinking reframes power from a position of ethics (read C. West Churchman).

Q (Geir Sundet): Outcome Mapping tends, in my experience, to focus on changes in behaviour. Does this not make it much more suitable for tracking changes in complex systems? Meaning that the conventional LF approach adopts a much more linear input, output, outcome approach, which is less likely to capture unexpected (or partly expected) impacts/outcome.
A: Yes, this is one of the very useful parts of OM. Unexpected outcomes are a challenge for OM as with most other PME approaches – intentional design is about clarifying expected changes, so how are unexpected changes tracked? When we set up an intentional design we are drawing boundaries about what will be monitored and what won’t – this will naturally limit our ability to identify unexpected changes. But this is a work in progress across the systems field as well as the evaluation field.

Gier followed up: I find that the very exercise of tracking and observing behaviour focuses attention on the political and power relations. This has not always been routinely done, and organisations have often shied away from attempting political analysis and interpretations.

Q (Nasim Kung’u): Can Progress Markers be used to identify unexpected behavioural change?
A: Progress Markers are an instrument so it would depend on how the behavioural change is being observed and the kind of information being collected. There are methods (such as SenseMaker) that collect large quantities of narrative data so that early signs of unexpected change can be detected. These are just starting to be explored within international development. In complex situations, it is difficult to write progress markers because it’s impossible to predict the outcomes ahead of time. In these situations it’s much more important to have real time monitoring to record changes in relationships, actions, policies and practices of BPs and others who are unexpectedly influenced. A book by Jonny Morel ‘Evaluation in the Face of Uncertainty: Anticipating Surprise and Responding to the inevitable’ is recommended.

Q (Emebet Ayelign): Can OM stand with other planning tools?
A: Yes, OM can be blended with other methods such as scenario planning or assumption based planning – particularly in situations of uncertainty.

Unanswered questions 

1. George de Gooijer asks: Is the second point (in Richard’s list of disadvantages of OM: focus on boundary partners neglects relevance of other actors) in fact a call to include the ‘principal-agent’ problem into the OM approach, where OM has in fact excluded the problem by limiting to boundary partners?

2.Another from George: In addition to principal agent: maybe the pressure coming from pushing for ‘boundary partners’ is 2-fold: pressure to get the right partners during the design-phase, but also pressure to ‘nest’ the method in the rest of the process you want to influence (we could borrow from the Viable Systems Model??)

3. Bob Sutton asks: Are case studies the best way to improve and promote OM to often sceptical or unfamiliar project partners? Or do you have other suggestions for new users to promote the OM approach?

4. Wessel van den Berg asks: Does anyone know of a particular analysis of OM according to the qualities of a complex system a la Morin such as unpredictability, small causes large effects, difficulty with models etc.

I leave these with Bob and Richard to respond to.

Systems Concepts and Outcome Mapping Webinar: May 3

A message from Simon Hearn at the Outcome Mapping Learning Community:

Join us for a Systems Concepts and Outcome MappingWebinar on May 3. Space is limited so reserve your Webinar seat now at:

In our third community webinar, we will explore systems concepts and their application in Outcome Mapping.

As practitioners, we often don’t reflect enough on the broader picture behind the methods we are applying. This can certainly be the case for OM. In this webinar, Bob Williams and Richard Hummelbrunner will introduce the systems field, from which OM has drawn significantly. They’ll present the three concepts of inter-relationships, perspectives and boundaries – three things that are implicit in OM but often taken for granted. They also share their reflections on OM from a systems point of view. In addition, Ricardo Wilson-Grau will comment on their presentation from the perspective of an OM practitioner.

To get a taste of what Bob and Richard will share with us, you should first take a look at the article in the current edition of the OMLC newsletter: Or you may want to read their new book: ‘Systems Concepts in Action: A Practitioner’s Toolkit”

Title: Systems Concepts and Outcome Mapping
Date: Tuesday, May 3, 2011
Time: 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM (London time: GMT+1)

After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar.

System Requirements
PC-based attendees: Required: Windows® 7, Vista, XP or 2003 Server
Macintosh®-based attendees: Required: Mac OS® X 10.4.11 (Tiger®) or newer

Evaluation reading list, contacts and resources

A list of essential evaluation literature, and some contacts courtesy of Ben Ramalingam, Harry Jones, and myself. The list focuses on evaluation but I’ve added some that include reflections on the evaluation of the contribution of research on policy (although, be warned, their approaches do attempt to measure impact and will disappoint anyone who thinks that robust and meaningful ‘evaluations’ of the impact of research on policy are possible):

Top 15 Evaluation-specific references

1. Basil Cracknell, Evaluating Development Aid: Issues, Problems and Solutions – still one of the best books on the topic of aid evaluation

2. Chris Roche, Impact Assessment for Development Agencies: Learning to Value Change – very clear and lucid explanation of impact assessments

3. Michael Quinn Patton, Utilisation-focused Evaluation (a free-to-download checklist) – perhaps the world’s best known evaluator on how to ensure evaluations get used – essential reading

4. OECD-DAC (2008) Principles of Evaluating Development Assistance A useful statement of principles by the DAC donors – worth knowing about

5. Cynthia Clapp-Wincek and Richard Blue (2001)  “Evaluation of Recent USAID Evaluation Experience”. U.S. Agency for International Development – an interesting study of evaluation in USAID, still relevant despite being 10 years old; or Richard Blue, Cynthia Clapp-Wincek and Holly Benner (2009) Beyond Success Stories: Monitoring and Evaluation for Foreign Assistance Results. An ‘updated’ version developed independently. There is also a Policy_Brief.

6. Feinstein, Osvaldo and Picciotto, Robert (2001) Evaluation and Poverty Reduction Collection of articles / short papers on a very comprehensive range of topics

7. Savedoff, William; Ruth Levine and Nancy Birdsall (2006) “When Will We Ever Learn? Improving Lives Through Impact Evaluation“. Center for Global Development Evaluation Gap Working Group – the paper which kickstarted much of the recent interest in RCTs

8. Ravallion, M (2008) Evaluation in the Practice of Development World Bank Policy Research Paper 4547 – sensible thoughts

9. Jones et al (2009) Improving impact evaluation production and use ODI Paper – the title says it all

10. Proudlock et al (2009) Improving Humanitarian Impact Assessment ALNAP Paper synthesising lessons from 4 case studies of impact assessments

11. Pawson, R (2003) ‘Nothing as Practical as a Good Theory’ in Evaluation 9, pp. 471–490 – a clear account of the role  of theory in evaluation

12. Jones, H (2009) The Gold Standard is Not a Silver Bullet for Evaluation – Harry’s opinion piece advocating multi-methods in impact assessments

13. Bob Williams ‘Systems concepts in Evaluation‘ -The first systems publication to focus exclusively on evaluation

14. Michael Quinn Patton (2010) Developmental evaluation: Applying complexity concepts to enhance innovation and use.

15. Sarah Earl, Fred Carden and Terry Smutylo, Outcome Mapping: building learning and reflection into development programs.

General references on research influencing policy (assessing the contribution of think tanks to policy)

1. Donald Abelson, A Capitol Idea – on the role of think-tanks in foreign policy processes

2. Jeffrey Puryear, Thinking Politics – on role of intellectuals in transition to democracy in Chile

3. Daniel Ricci The Transformation of American Politics: The New Washington and the Rise of Think Tanks that reviews the rise of think tanks and, unintentionally offers a way to assess their contribution to democratic policy making in what he calls ‘The Great Conversation’.

Three people worth contacting

1. Michael Quinn Patton – the leading thinker & communicator on evaluation issues

2. Niels Dabelstein, former head of Danida evaluation, running the evaluation of the Paris Declaration

3. Gunilla Törnqvist – current head of SADEV – the Swedish Agency for Development Evaluation.

Five key links worth checking

1. Outcome Mapping Learning Community

2. A tip a day by and for evaluators

3. Monitoring and Evaluation News


5. Impact Evaluation, Development Effectiveness (3ie)

An introductory guide to evidence based influence -but don’t forget the context

The Open Society Institute has published a guide on advocacy that may be very useful for think tanks.

The steps suggested are very similar to the ones in the RAPID Outcome Mapping Approach, but I would include an often forgotten first step:

To really understand the policy making process, environment and the its key players. This can be done following a political economy analysis of the policy issue or problem -or even undertaking a political economy analysis of evidence uptake for the particular policy issue.  Other tools like social network analysis, influence mapping, etc. may be useful.

This ‘step zero’ was incorporated into ROMA (it is not in the link above) last year when we decided that users were getting too focused on following steps rather than thinking about why some strategies may be more appropriate than others.

In fact, we tested this new step at a workshop in Uganda organised by the Danish Development Research Network to help universities across Africa make a better case for more investment in tertiary education. The objective of the step is to encourage a discussion rather than a box-filling exercise.

The idea is that teams should start the planning process by establishing a vision (how the future looks like and the particular role that they play in this future world and in relation to other relevant actors), considering the way change takes place (using theories or examples to illustrate this and highlighting the role various actors), and reflecting on their organisations’ own nature and competencies (and their relation to others).

The teams are then encouraged to discuss these issues along side each other, allowing the answers for each to influence and revise the others.

This process reflects the nature of policy change and influence –slightly chaotic and iterative, strengthened by feedback loops. Out of this discussion, policy objectives, details of the context, key actors, possible approaches to influence, risks and opportunities, etc. should emerge. In some cases, this is all that will be necessary and no greater detail has to be sought.

For example, last year I had a chat with the director of a think tank in Ecuador  about this. After a few minutes we were able to establish that in their policy context, environmental policy, policymaking tends to be quite legalistic -policy change happening as the consequences of legal challenges from communities, local governments and NGOs. The organisation itself is staffed by lawyers and legally trained people who are able to tackle these issues. To contribute to change then their best way forward is to undertake three lines of work: research and analysis of possible issues to be addressed, training and advice to local communities and governments, and working with the media to raise awareness about the issues and legal challenges.

The ROMA process (or the one suggested by OSI) can then kick in: define the policy objectives, study the context, identify and assess the position of key actors, establish specific policy objectives for them, develop a strategy, consider the resources and capacities necessary to implement the strategy and develop a monitoring, learning and evaluation framework.

OM in complex interventions -OMLC Webinar

This first webinar from the Outcome Mapping Learning Community (OMLC) features Ricardo Wilson-Grau presenting his famous Fish soup development story. Other guests include Jan Van Ongevalle and Kaia Ambrose.

This was my first webinar: It could be improved but Simon Hearn did a great job at facilitating it and am looking forward until the next.

Outcome Mapping workshop in India

I know that some of you are interested in OM so here is a good opportunity to learn more about it and support the Outcome Mapping Learning Community. From ODI’s email to the OMLC and the ebpdn:

ODI and CUTS are hosting a 3-day workshop to introduce the basic principles of Outcome Mapping, with particular emphasis on their application to the planning phase of development projects and programmes.

The workshop includes three days OM training plus an opportunity for informal peer support and expert advice on tackling your own OM challenges.

Designed for programme managers, desk officers and field staff from NGOs, funding agencies and national and international development organisations looking for effective ways to address the dynamics of change in the complex environments in which they work.

In the course, participants will learn how Outcome Mapping can help:

  • Planning and measuring social change in development projects and corporate initiatives;
  • Bring stakeholders into the planning, monitoring & evaluation processes;
  • Foster social and organizational learning;
  • Strengthen partnerships and alliances;
  • Understand and influence more effectively, human and ecological well-being.

Development professionals around the world are using Outcome Mapping because it helps them address questions such as:

  • How do we move beyond attribution to document contribution to social change?
  • How can we systematically and realistically capture the richness of what is occurring in our projects?
  • How do we get our partners and other important stakeholders involved in monitoring our projects?
  • How do we integrate M&E into the project from the planning stage?
  • How do we decide what to monitor and evaluate?
  • How can we notice, explain and respond to unexpected results?

For more information on Outcome Mapping visit the OM Learning Community and the IDRC website.

What the previous participants say…
“From the perspective of a development agency advisor, the OM workshop was invaluable. It provided an excellent opportunity to work through some of the challenges relating to the attribution of project outcomes; to the role that the behaviours of key stakeholders play in mediating outcomes and to how to shift the focus from monitoring impacts to monitoring behavioural change and relationships.”
Dr Andrew Long, Social Development Advisor, DFID

“The Outcome Mapping workshop was energising and at the same time promoted deep reflection on what we are trying to achieve in development, who we are trying to achieve it for, and how we should assess if we are on the right track with our development work. It puts the focus of development squarely on people!”
Nicole Leotaud, Senior Technical Officer, CANARI

Course trainers: Terry Smutylo and Simon Hearn
Terry Smutylo is the founder and former director of the Evaluation Unit at IDRC and one of the principle authors of the OM methodology. He is now an independent consultant supporting development programmes around the world.

Simon Hearn is a Research Officer at the Overseas Development Institute. As well as coordinating the global Outcome Mapping Learning Community and providing training on Outcome Mapping he has also supported a number of projects and programmes in Africa and Europe in applying Outcome Mapping.

Fees and registration
Course fee: £600 (excl of VAT for UK) – The fee includes workshop registration, materials, accommodation and meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) for 4 nights at the Hotel Jaipur Palace and transfers to and from the airport. Please aim to arrive on Monday 14th and depart on Friday 18th.

**International Participants PLEASE REGISTER EARLY to have sufficient time for the visa application**

To maximize participation and instructional quality, we limit the number of participants to 24 per workshop. We do this on a first come, first served basis, so to avoid disappointment, register early.

To register, please send a completed electronic booking form (downloadable here) to Eva Cardoso ( before the 7th January 2011

Note that the OMLC is working with collaborators in Africa and Latin America to organise workshops in those regions too; so if you cannot make it to India, watch this space.



on success from TED by Alain de Botton

Vanesa Weyrauch recommended this TED talk on a new philosophy of success, by Alain de Botton. The talk is clearly directed at us, human beings, obsessed by modern notions of success and the anxiety that the possibility and unavoidable failure to become Bill Gates generates.

It could have, however, been equally directed at the funders of think tanks who demand measures of impact and value for money and the think tanks who (are quick to) claim it for themselves.

Anxiety, he argues is also generated by envy -by competition between peers. This is not helped by a society (or a community) that strives to treat and evaluate (and rank) us as equals even when we are clearly not.

And because we are not equal, the possibility of meritocracy is equally impossible -and the attribution of value to people and organisations based on what is a necessarily (because we can never know it all) flawed assessment of their achievements is fundamentally wrong.

However, still we do assign value to success. We deem organisations that achieve their objectives more valuable than those that don’t. Mind you, not all objectives. No. We focus on particular achievements, small parts of a much broader whole: a policy change, a big idea being adopted by decision makers, a project being redesigned. And we are expected to judge (or be judged) by those.

Our real value then has nothing to do with who we are and all to do with, as Alain de Bottom implies in his introduction, what we do (from: ‘Hello, nice to meet you. So… what do you do?’).

Success, he also argues, implies trade-offs -failures. We need to recognise that we cannot be successful in everything achieve it all (work life balance; great communicators and great researchers).

Therefore, when evaluating think tanks (and when evaluating ourselves) we should not be afraid to focus on our whole -our roles- and consider a more nuanced understanding of success that recognises necessary choices and sacrifices. We should pay far more attention than we do to consider what success means to us because what we aim for is essentially life changing and transformational. In de Botton’s words:

And make sure that we own them [our own ideas of success],that we are truly the authors of our own ambitions.Because it’s bad enough, not getting what you want.But it’s even worse to have an ideaof what it is you want, and find out at the end of a journey,that it isn’t, in fact, what you wanted all along.



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