- Author: Carol Kochhar-Bryant
- Date: November 12, 2020
The previous blog in the Wayfinding series introduced the ‘logic model’ as a special kind of compass and roadmap…
As previously discussed in my wayfinding series the term ‘wayfinding’ historically refers to the techniques used by ancient peoples of Polynesia to explore the islands of the Pacific.
More recently, the term has been applied to helping people navigate their communities, and fits neatly with the concept of human-centered mobility which places the user directly at the heart of design. ‘Wayfinding’ provides a useful metaphor for thinking about evaluation and performance measurement– and as a journey of dedication, discovery, and strategy. For any journey, a ‘roadmap’ and compass are essential.
The ‘logic model’ is a special kind of compass and roadmap that show, in a visual display, the relationships among the resources, activities, and outcomes for your program. The value of a logic model is that it presents the elements of a program’s work and visually expresses beliefs about why the program is likely to succeed. It shows the relationship between your program’s activities and its intended effects – in other words, if I do this activity, then I expect this outcome. A logic model helps define the boundary between ‘what’ the program is doing and the question — ‘so, what are the results of all the things we are doing?
A theory of change, or logic model, is the foundation for what an organization does and why it does it. It should answer:
A strong theory of change requires that programs think through how their activities intend to achieve impact – the ‘active ingredients’ that effect change and outcomes for your target customers or clients.
The logic of programs has another meaning that lies closer to heart of community change: the logic of how things work. Logic in this sense refers to the relationships among elements and seeing patterns in complex phenomena that occur in programs. Logic models are useful for both new and existing programs and initiatives. If your effort is in the planning stage, then a logic model can help get it off to a good start. If your program is already under way, a model can help you describe, modify or enhance it.
The logic model is known by many names, including program roadmaps, theory of change, theory of action, blueprint for change, and outcome maps. Regardless of the name, they all rest on a foundation of logic – specifically, the logic of how change happens. Here are some key terms and concepts that are common elements in all logic models:
Putting these elements together graphically gives the following basic structure for a logic model. The arrows between the boxes indicate that review and adjustment are an ongoing process – both in enacting the initiative and developing the model.
In summary, your logic model presents a picture of how your effort or initiative is supposed to work. It explains why your strategy is a good solution to the problem at hand. Effective logic models make an explicit, visual statement of the activities that will bring about change and the results you expect to see for the community and its people. A logic model keeps participants in the effort moving in the same direction by providing a common language and point of reference.
Upcoming blog, Building a Logic Model to Tell Your Performance Story, provides details about the steps for developing a logic model.
Carol Kochhar-Bryant is an Evaluation Consultant with the National Center for Mobility Management, and Professor Emeritus at the George Washington University, Washington D.C. She lives in Reston, Virginia.
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