Theory of Change Workshop - Trimpact

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Theory of Change Workshop
Introduction
Before going into detail about the Theory of Change (ToC), let us start with the definition of a ‘Theory’. According to The Oxford Dictionary: “Theory is a supposition, or a system of ideas intended to explain something, especially one based on general principles independent of the thing to be explained”, and subdivided into
a) A set of principles on which the practice of an activity is based,
b) An idea used to account for a situation or justify a course of action, and
c) A collection of propositions to illustrate the principles of a subject.
Using the above, we define a Theory of Change as a collection of principles to implement the desired change to realise the shared vision.
A ToC is vital to the success of a complex development project for various reasons. For instance, from the project point of view, it provides the layout and order of activities to deliver the desired outputs required for their Monitoring, Evaluation & Learning. For the target group (or target territory) it provides insight in what is going to change. It is the mental first step of accepting the change and to commit to the required development.
Trimpact_ToC_simplified-DRC-2016
Trimpact facilitates ToC workshops. Its main objective is: “To create a shared vision among stakeholders about the desired triple-impact (outcome) and to identify the development pathways with the required activities (with outputs) and the contextual factors (hypotheses) that are likely to affect these pathways and activities in realising that envisioned impact”.
The shared vision may be that strong that parties see new opportunities that provide them with a feeling of ‘let us do that together’ because the result is so appealing to all involved. It is that spirit that will help to overcome possible fears and make collaboration fun and rewarding in multiple aspects.
Therefore, we facilitate this ToC workshop during the planning (design) or the inception phase of a project (programme, initiative). It is our experience in various African countries that this type of synergy and alignment workshop provides insights. On the one hand about the required activities to be undertaken by the new project, and on the other hand, about how existing local organisations, projects and of course the local people (farmers, SME) have their role and function within this ToC. Moreover, the ToC shows where existing projects can contribute to this change to avoid duplication of efforts (see also S&A workshop).
Through building a ToC, all stakeholders get aligned and committed to contributing their part towards the shared vision of the desired change. Subsequently, the ToC becomes a living document during the project.
ToC preferred above the Logical Framework
The Logical Framework or Logframe is also a ToC describing problem-based, cause-and-effect relations. However, its origin lays in the business world as a project planning tool to solve a (one) problem in relatively stable or predictable conditions of change. Consequently, it has various shortcomings in conditions where complexity and unpredictability prevail. Significantly, the lack of including assumptions about the nature of social and environmental changes (the more longer taking change processes) makes the Logframe less suitable for Sub-Saharan African countries where we work.
Therefore, Trimpact facilitates ToC building that also identifies the needs (conditions) of that project for its success. These can include the identification of partners for the new project, types of required forums and interactions with ministries, identification of additional technical assistance, tools and processes that stimulate Synergy and Alignment of all actors in the given territory.

Trimpact ToC workshop
Building a shared vision about the change stakeholders seek
In the workshop, participants contribute actively and as straightforward as possible to what they see (belief) as the ultimate outcomes (impacts) and pathways through which they together expect to achieve them. The ToC workshop provides a means for the various participating stakeholders to develop comprehensive descriptions and illustrations of how and why the desired change will happen in a particular context.
ToC Burundi
In conclusion, the ToC workshop is learning on the job the ToC-theory and its application for a given challenge at the same time.
Finally, the ToC paves the way for development and creates the required commitment for collaborating towards the envisioned impact for the assigned territory.

Please contact us for further details.

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