It is always exciting to help an organisation develop its vision and goals. Last month I had the opportunity to work with a client and three country teams from India, Egypt and Nepal to establish a Theory of Change following a summative evaluation I completed in 2018 on their work over the past fifteen years. The evaluation itself was a great experience: how often do you get the chance to review fifteen years worth of work using Contribution Analysis, Process Tracing and Qualitative Comparative Analysis?
The country teams had different levels of experience with Theory of Change and with log frames and there was limited time to get through quite a lot of concepts and develop a Theory of Change. So it made sense to make the workshop as participatory as possible, reduce the theoretical teaching to the minimum and use exercises to both build the Theory of Change and explain the concepts as we went. This gave me the opportunity to explore how much knowledge had been retained at the end of each day and review this first thing in the morning.
The results were fantastic! Not only did we get a Theory of Change mapped out that covered the multi-country programme, we also got three outline country-specific log frames and clarity on some M&E tools that each country could draw on to meet and measure the goals they had agreed.
The final session of the workshop on day 3 included post-participation questions asked in a participatory game method. The feedback confirmed that the group had a better understanding of Theory of Change, a better grasp on how to build a log frame and a better understanding of how to analyse stakeholders using systems-thinking concepts. A WhatsApp group was set up to provide informal and ongoing peer-support until the group meets again. It apparently already proving highly useful for providing support between country teams.
Have you ever used participatory approaches like this? How do you balance different levels of skill with defined outcomes?