What is the Change you want to see?

Submitted by Liz Weaver on July 19, 2016 - 2:20am

Over the last several months, I have been working with and facilitating community groups and collaboratives through the theory of change process.  Some might consider the theory of change approach similar to strategic planning where an organization develops a vision, mission and strategies to guide the work.  A strategic planning process often is more internally focused where the organization is considered as the primary driver.  If truth be told, an organization does not exist by itself but rather in the context of a community or a system.  This means, of course, in effective strategic planning, you need to consider both the internal and external forces impacting the organization and of course the strategies which will ultimately be selected. 

A theory of change approach enables you to consider the community context first.  If done well, participants are asked to consider the 'community' change they would like to see and how the organization and/or collaborative is positioned to help drive that change forward.  It also recognizes that there will be other forces at play in this change process. 

Perhaps the most important step for a theory of change approach are the information and engagement loops to and with the community.   As well, the theory of change approach calls for at least, annual reflections on where the organization and/or collaborative is, what it has achieved and how the community is changed as a result. 

If your organization or collaborative truly wants to drive community change, this might be a process that is helpful to you. 

Here are a few resource links that might be helpful to you when exploring a theory of change approach -
1. Tamarack Resoruce at a Glance - Framework for Change - http://tamarackcci.ca/files/resource_at_a_glance_framework_for_change.pdf

2. What is theory of change http://www.theoryofchange.org/about/what-is-theory-of-change/

3. Theory of Change: A Practical Tool http://www.aecf.org/upload/publicationfiles/cc2977k440.pdf

4. 10 Great Resources for Creating a Theory of Change.  http://philanthropy411.wordpress.com/2010/03/29/theoryofchange/

If you have used a theory of change approach in your organization or collaborative, I would be interested in hearing from you and learning more about your experiences.