Seven steps for reviewing a Theory of Change

Have you developed a Theory of Change and want to refine it? Don’t know where to start?

These steps can help you to review your Theory of Change:

  1. Understand the purpose and scope of the ToC: is this ToC trying to outline a strategic vision or the details of a specific intervention in one place.
  2. Review the overall structure of the Theory of Change:
    • Are all the necessary elements of a Theory of Change included?
    • Are they all in the right place in the ToC: are outcomes things that will be achieved/changed and are activities/interventions what is implemented?
    • Are they phrased clearly and appropriately?
    • Is the ceiling of accountability in the right place?
  3. Verify the logic: Verify the logic of the Theory of Change to ensure that the relationships between impacts, outcomes and activities are plausible and evidence-based. Check if the Theory of Change accurately reflects the program’s underlying assumptions and the context in which it will be implemented.
  4. Review the evidence: Review the evidence base that supports the Theory of Change. Ensure that the program’s intended outcomes and expected impact are based on evidence and research and that the rationale is clearly identified in the ToC.
  5. Check for gaps: Identify any gaps in the Theory of Change. For example, are there any missing activities that could be important for achieving the desired outcomes? Are there any unintended consequences or negative outcomes that the program may cause?
  6. Consider external factors: Consider external factors that may impact the success of the program. For example, are there any political or social factors that could impact the implementation or effectiveness of the program? Are there any external resources or support that could help or hinder the program’s success? Have they been listed as assumptions?
  7. Seek feedback: Seek feedback from stakeholders and experts to ensure the completeness of the Theory of Change. Stakeholders can provide valuable insights and identify any blind spots that may have been missed during the development process.

Published by Erica Breuer

My work involves articulating and understanding how, why and whether health and social care interventions, programs and policies result in change for individuals and broader society. This includes working with stakeholders to understand how system and service level change should occur in their contexts

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