Harbinger Consultants

Culture + Complexity + Change

2015 | The year begins

Happy New Year! We hope you enjoyed a relaxing holiday and festive season. We are feeling positive and bouyant about 2015 with new projects and initiatives already taking shape.

First up, we are developing a planning workshop for a community based organisation that promotes physical and emotional wellbeing. The workshop applies a Theory of Change (TOC) approach that is focused on outcomes and impact. TOC is an approach to strategy that ‘defines all building blocks required to bring about a given long-term goal’. It involves a collaborative approach that maps a pathway for change and develops a roadmap to achieve high level goals. It is about developing a strategic approach to impact rather than developing ‘a plan’.

As a roadmap for action, the TOC is highly attentive to the why, how and what of an organisation’s activity. It recognises that to be successful, organisations that seek to have impact, need to focus outcomes. As a participatory process, TOC captures all voices in an organisation. The process we are designing will engage both the Board and membership with a view articulating long term goals and developing links between outcomes and interventions. A key focus of the process is defining causal links between outcomes and the conditions required to attain those outcomes.

In thinking about strategy, we particularly like this description:

A good strategy has an essential logical structure that I call the kernel. The kernel of a strategy contains three elements: a diagnosis, a guiding policy, and coherent action. The guiding policy specifies the approach to dealing with the obstacles called out in the diagnosis. It is like a signpost, marking the direction forward but not defining the details of the trip. Coherent actions are feasible coordinated policies, resource commitments, and actions designed to carry out the guiding policy.
Good Strategy Bad Strategy: The Difference and Why It Matters by Richard Rumelt

Theory of Change requires participants to be clear about long term goals, identify measurable indicators of success, and formulate interventions to achieve goals. This includes attention on assumptions and barriers with a view to rethinking and responding to contextual conditions with a view to enabling emergent and adaptive strategy. Our approach to facilitation endeavours to be open, generative and creative with the intention of harnessing the collective intelligence of all participants.

More information and resources about Theory of Change is available online from the Center for Theory of Change.


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