Strategy for change
It must be clear which components of a programme that are important for achieving an expected outcome and an expected impact. If we target change then we need a strategy addressing; i) why the status quo would change and ii) who would bring the desired evolution. The HR&S tool Strategy for Change (SfC) offers an opportunity to reflect over whether the expected impact is likely to happen because of the programme. The SfC aims at defining all of the necessary conditions required to bring about outcome and impact, and it also points out which conditions are sufficient.
The Strategy for Change describes the connections between Impact, Outcome, Output, Milestones, and Input, together with, Outcome challenges, Progress markers, Activities, the Strength of Evidence and Baseline, as well as Stakeholder analysis, Motivation, and Power of influence; all parameters compiled per Ambition. Progress is measured through the measurable entities Output and Outcome. Equally important are Lessons Learned and Informed Decisions. SfC is a narrative of the more ambitious HR&S tool, the “Real-time Outcome Planning & Evaluation” (ROPE).
1. Identify exactly what we want to achieve (ambition), and
2. how to measure if we are proceeding in the right direction (progress markers).
3. Identify the challenges (outcome challenges).
4. Agree on joint activities to address the challenge (activities).
5. Agree on who is doing what exactly and when (milestones).
6. Measure if milestones were met (output).
Word the hypothesis
The hypothesis is a summary of the Strategy for Change. The hypothesis is a causal chain, linking cause A and the expected impact B and articulating the steps between the cause and the expected impact.
Terminilogy & definitions by HR&S
Ambition: The need and ambitions as expressed by the local stakeholder, the Target Partner. The answer to the questions – What do you want to do? How do you want to do it?
Background & Justification: Include also the national development plans when appropriate.
Context: The answer to the questions – How do you manage right now?
Motivation: Motivation is a phenomenon that explains the processes giving rise to individual energy and endurance. It can be external (e.g. money, career, power, aid) or internal (passion, vision, commitment), and strengthened through teams. The answer to the questions: Is your motivation external or internal?
Outcome Challenge: Challenges hindering the Target partner from reaching her/his ambitions, as expressed by the Target partner. The answer to the questions – Why did you not reach your ambition already? Did you experience challenges that were hindering you from starting? If so, which challenges?.
Activity: Activities addressing the Outcome challenges aiming to generate an Expected Output. The Activities are arranged by the Programme Management Partners (PP).
Milestones: Milestones are expected outputs presented with due dates and the person(s) responsible for the implementation. Milestones may also present the financial input required.
Output: The Outputs are quantified results from the Activities. The PP is in control over Outputs. It can be, for example, the number of active participants in a certain number of workshops that lasted a certain period of time.
Outcome: Actions taken by different stakeholders as a result of the Activities. The PPs are not in control over Outcomes.
Progress markers: Measurable indicators of progress. They are linked to the Outcomes and are categorised as Levels: 1, 2, and 3.
Impact: HR&S defines Impact as Outcomes that have become sustainable over time and do not require backup from the programme. The Impact is quantitatively measurable as a result of our progress markers, and HR&S is accountable for the Impact. The Impact is measured at the time of closing the programme. In addition, HR&S measures, if possible, if the Impact remains one, two, five, and even ten years after the programme has closed.
Impact challenges: Impact challenges is a compilation of risks that may lead to impact failures.
Impact challenges mitigation: Actions taken to mitigate impact challenges.
Business plan: A compilation of expenses and income that has to be managed in order to enable a sustainable economy, which is a requirement for impact to happen in actual practice.
Accountability management: The Aid industry has not always been able to keep accounting, auditing, transparency, and accountability at the highest level in their programmes. This has created gaps that have to be addressed and that now constitute outcome challenges why accountability management is a crucial activity where the structure is presented for ensuring that financial agreements are guaranteed.
Input: Resources required to arrange the Activities, can be for example funds, training, knowledge, skills, expert advice, coordination, communication, and infrastructure. Inputs have to be available; otherwise, they are reformulated into activities.
Customer survey: The customers are identified as entities providing the resources. The survey is addressing our customers’ needs and challenges and proposes how the PP can solve the customer’s challenges. The answer to the questions: What are our potential customers’ problems, frustrations, and goals?
Stakeholder analysis & Public relations: Do we have the important stakeholders in our team, who i) will benefit personally, ii) has the internal motivation, and iii) enough power of influence? Moreover, are all the entities required to reach impact represented in our team, for example, technicians, equipment suppliers, chief of the village, and/or head of the family.
Testing the strength of evidence: Through scientific surveys are the strength of the evidence for claimed outcome and impact tested. The method describes the randomization approach, the control groups and the sample respondent group. Survey results include a compilation and an analysis of sample respondents/control group i) testimonies, individual ii) questionnaires and iii) interviews, and iv) focal group discussions.
Baseline: The baseline describes the situation before starting the programme and constitutes the control against which the programme achievements will be evaluated. A baseline is required both at the micro and the macro level.
Lessons learned: How and what do we learn from our mistakes or things happening outside of our control.
Informed decisions: How do we adjust the SfC are a result of lessons learned.
Possible Impact: The possible Impact is often a wide and qualitative statement, something that is desired and that may or may not happen as a consequence of our interaction, and often long after we have closed the programme. We are not accountable for the possible impact, and we can also not claim it as the goal that we strategically work towards achieving. If it actually happens, then we often do not have evidence to what extent it was caused by our programme.
Vision: On a larger and wider scale, why is this initiative relevant? We are not accountable for our vision.
Mission: We are accountable for our mission.
- There are three levels of Progress markers, depending on how difficult these are to achieve, where level one is the easiest to achieve. These progress markers can be defined according to two approaches, namely – term duration and degree of realism. In the term duration approach, level 1 are immediate responses that will be expected during the initial phase of the programme, level 2 are medium-term responses that one would expect after some time, and level 3 are long-term responses that one might expect and possibly after some time. In the degree of realism approach, level 1 are brutally realistic items, level 2 are somewhat idealistic items, and level 3 are items that are close to being unrealistic (think big).
- There are two types of Baseline: the micro level presents the local situation while the macro level presents national, regional or international data.
- There are two types of Outcome Challenges: internal and external. Internal outcome challenges are something we can have an influence on through our activities. External outcome challenges are out of our control and something we will acknowledge and somehow manage.
- Stakeholder analysis is the process of the assessing a decision’s impact on relevant parties. The stakeholders are organised into a grid with different matrices according to their interest and their power. Power mapping provides a theoretical framework and a set of tools to tap the power needed to make things happen. Power mapping is helpful in coalition building; with whom should we develop a relationship. The HR&S Stakeholder analysis is fully transparent and thus closely related to what is often refered to as “Public relations”.
Public relations (PR) is the practice of deliberately managing the release and spread of information between our programme and the public. We aim to convince an audience, inside and outside our usual sphere of influence, to promote our idea, purchase our product, support our position, or recognize our accomplishments. Social media can augment PR efforts and serve as an amplifier.