Theory of Change


Theory of Change

Traditionally, if we wanted to realise something we would make a detailed plan that would outline every step in achieving this. Nowadays, we realise that change is not linear and that such blueprint plans do not work in many of the situations we work in. Reality is, in those situations, more complex and cannot be planned. However, this does not mean that we can’t visualise and write down how we think that change will happen because of our actions and interventions. A way to do this is by using a Theory of Change (ToC). Theories of Change help organisations, teams or departments to make decisions while taking into account the multiple forces and uncertainties at play.

Organisations create a Theory of Change preferably at the start of their project or for their whole organisation to map how they perceive change happens. A Theory of Change is usually a visual or a diagram with accompanying narrative text. It outlines the ideas about how change is realised by describing the change pathways and by making the assumptions behind these pathways clear. In this way, it differs from traditional plans as clarifying the assumptions behind the pathways shows the influence of the backgrounds and beliefs of the people creating the ToC. Another difference is that a ToC is a living document, not a static one. Once a ToC has been devised, it is constantly reflected upon to see whether the pathways and assumptions turn out like this in real life to be able to adequate adjust to complex and emerging situations.

Perspectivity has assisted various organisations or departments with the creation and revision of their theories of change. Examples include: