December 12, 2013
The first logic model I developed for a program was so large my office manager had to order specially sized paper on which to print it. Our program spanned service delivery, advocacy and communications in various forms. It is perhaps not surprising that this comprehensive logic model was very beautiful but incomprehensible. And given how our advocacy work shifted and evolved, it was also soon outdated.
Nearly fifteen years later, I’ve learned a lot about evaluation. Evaluation approaches have evolved as well. While logic models are one helpful tool for some programs and projects, they have limits. There are new and useful tools and approaches to organize thinking about change efforts, particularly those that adapt and evolve. One recent arrival on the scene is Outcome Mapping. Outcome Mapping is appealing for advocacy because it is oriented to change processes, rather than linear cause-effect models.
My colleagues at The Advocacy Hub and I have used a spin-off on this concept to evaluate the outcomes of advocacy campaigns, investigating plausible connections between the campaign and the changes it was trying to influence. Approaches called “outcome harvesting”, “outcome tracing”, and “contribution analysis” are essentially variations on the same theme.
In my solo consulting and the work I do with colleagues, we emphasize evaluation to help organizations embed learning and become more effective change agents. Innovative tools like Outcome Mapping are a great resource for this work.
To learn more about Outcome Mapping, check out the Outcome Mapping Learning Community.