Strategy for change (SfC)

We target change at institutions and in communities that are aid dependent and aim to achieve sustainable operations and sustainable economies instead.

In order to reach our goals it must be clear which components of a programme that are important for achieving an expected outcome and an expected sustainable impact. We use a management strategy addressing;

  1. Why the status quo would change and
  2. Who would bring the desired evolution.

The HR&S Management Strategy for Change (SfC) offers an opportunity to reflect over whether an expected sustainable impact is likely to happen as a results of the programme. The SfC defines the necessary conditions required to bring about impact. The SfC also points out which conditions that 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.

Please note that the SfC is a narrative of the more ambitious HR&S tool, the “Real-time Outcome Planning & Evaluation” (ROPE).


Word the hypothesis

The hypothesis is a narrative of the Strategy for Change, it is a causal chain, linking cause A and the expected impact B while articulating the steps between the cause and the expected impact.

SfC Start-up

1. Identify exactly what we want to achieve (Ambition) and
2. identify measurable indicators of progress so that we can measure if we are proceeding in the right direction (Progress Markers).
3. Identify the challenges we have to reach our Ambitions (Outcome Challenges).
4. Agree on joint activities to address the challenge (Activities) and
5. on who is doing what exactly and when (Milestones).
6. Measure if milestones were met (Output).

SfC Impact measurement

  1. Measure actions taken by our target partners as a result of the Activities (Outcome) benefiting from the Progress Markers.
  2. Measure if outcomes that have become sustainable over time and do not require any more backup from the programme (Sustainable Impact).
  3. Compile the risks that may lead to sustainable impact failures (Impact Challenges) and take actions to mitigate those.
  4. Measure any impact that has occurred as a consequence of the programme but that was not directly targeted by the Progress Markers (Additional Impact). Additional impact can be positive or negative.
  5. Measure if the programme has had desired positive consequences years after we have closed the programme (Possible impact). 
  6. Outcome and sustainable impact are measured using the HR&S tool Testing the Strength of Evidence (TestE). We benefit from scientific methods to measure the strength of the evidence for our claimed outcome and impact. The baseline describes the situation before starting the programme and constitutes the control against which the programme achievements are evaluated.
unsplash - change

Explaining the value proposition of SfC with a parallel

Imagine you are to support your village. You want to empower your family by financially supporting the children to go to school. If you did, you may want to know exactly who went to school and if they managed the exams. 
If the village instead tells you that yes, we have benefited in general but it is too difficult to explain exactly how. If they say, just trust us we have spend the money well, you may wonder what happened with that money, actually.

If you got the information that ten children did go to school but they did not manage the exams, then you may want to know who these ten children were and what their challenges were. Was it lack of school-books, school uniforms, school lunches, sanitary pads, were they not able to do their home work…?

You may want to address those challenges. Maybe they need electricity and a lamp so the girls can attend homework after finishing they days household work…


Terminilogy & definitions by HR&S

  • RISE Agency_ Motivation & power to influence: 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?
    • 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.
  • Background & Justification: Include also the national development plans when appropriate.
  • Context: The answer to the questions – How do you manage right now?
  • Vision & Mission: 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.
  • 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?
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • 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.
      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?
  • 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. The outcome is quantitatively measurable as a result of our progress markers, and HR&S is accountable for the Outcome.
  • Progress markers: Measurable indicators of progress. They are linked to the Outcomes and are categorised as Levels: 1, 2, and 3.
    • Baseline_control: The baseline describes the situation before starting the programme and constitutes a control against which the programme achievements will be evaluated.
  • Sustainable impact: HR&S defines Sustainable Impact as Outcomes that have become sustainable over time and do not require any more backup from HR&S. Sustainable impact is i) a package of procedures that responds to the Outcome Challenges that have been identified by the partners during the coaching phase, and ii) is backed up by sustainable financial and institutional capacity.  It often constitutes of a set of procedures that have been implemented into an institution by the management. The Sustainable Impact is measured at the time of closing the programme, and in addition, if possible, if the Sustainable Impact remains one, two, five, and even ten years after the programme has been 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.
    • Additional Impact: Impact that occurred as a consequence of the programme but was not directly targeted by the Progress Markers. I can be positive, but it can also be negative.
      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.
  • Testing the strength of evidence (TestE): The evidence for claimed outcome and impact are tested through scientific surveys. Data is collected, compiled and assessed with scientific statistical methods.
    • TestE survey manual: The TestE survey manual compiles the Ambitions of the target / programme management  partner, their Outcome Challenges and their Progress Markers. The study groups are identified, questions developed, and the survey team, date, place and visit arrangements are agreed on.
    • Macro_control: A macro survey serve as a complementary control to the Baseline.
  • Lessons learned & Informed decisions_iterative method: How and what do we learn from our mistakes or things happening outside of our control. Iterative measures. Informed decisions: How do we adjust the SfC are a result of lessons learned.

Scoring the Progress markers. The operation builds on a sequence of monitoring and evaluation events, for with dates, participants and results are recorded.
a. The monitoring starts at the same time as the design of the program. The first task is to identify the baseline of the program; the presentation of the situation prior to the start of the program. Progress marker scoring valuea together with the related comments are compiled in a monitoring data sheet.

b. Scoring values
5 Excellent 90 – 100%
4 Good 70 – 90%
3 Adequate 30 – 70 %
2 Poor 0 – 30 %
1 Insufficient 0 – 10 %

c. Scoring based on percentage supersedes scoring based on words. Thus, when a progress marker can be assessed with a percentage, then this is what the scoring shall be based on.


  • 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 referred 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.
  • We work with Programme management partners (PP) and Target partners (TP).
    • Programme management partners are the paying customers.
    • Target partners level one (TP1) are: scientific researchers, laboratory technicians, social entrepreneurs, development stakeholders.
      The second layer TP2 are the customers and other beneficiaries to TP1 and the third (TP3) are customers to TP2.