Inspired by the success of the Theory of Change on major projects, the CSIA team took the opportunity to step their own business through the process.

Taking the time to plan for and evaluate outcomes is a daunting task for most of us.

At CSIA, we have experienced a significant growth in our program of works. In delivering the range of projects, we found an easier and more effective way to tackle goals, outcomes and evaluation using a proven, evidence-based framework.

When we saw the positive impact and support the Theory of Change framework was bringing, we knew that this was just the thing we needed for our strategic planning. And it will bring the same support and benefits to your organisation.

What is Theory of Change?

Theory of Change is a visual process of mapping out activities and outcomes to lead to your end goal. Linking activities precisely to an end goal gives a better understanding of the purpose of your organisation’s activities, results in more purposeful planning, strengthens determination and makes programs easier to evaluate.

How CSIA applies Theory of Change

CSIA CEO Belinda Drew said the organisation had been using the framework for projects and had been delivering workshops on how to use it through the Inclusion Ready Project.

Hearing so many success stories evolve from Theories of Change workshops cemented the benefits and CSIA decided to step the business operations through the process.

“Sometimes having conversations about outcomes seems too big and hard to tackle. The benefit of the Theory of Change process is it feels like a mountain you can actually climb.”

Social designer, Dr Ingrid Burkett worked with the CSIA team to develop the Theory of Change. Dr Burkett has consulted for CSIA on the Homelessness Investment Project and Inclusion Ready to design better outcomes for the industry.

CSIA’s Theory of Change provides the organisation with a better framework and a shared understanding for evaluating impact and success over time.

“It helped us take what seemed like a big, unreachable long-term goal and break it down into things we can measure and talk about succinctly,” Ms Drew said.

Not sure where to start? Don’t worry we have the information you need to start your Theory of Change journey.

Who should I involve in the Theory of Change process?

Involving your staff and board in the Theory of Change process ensures everyone has a strong understanding of what the organisation is doing and why. In addition, working through the process is a great team building exercise.

“It’s a great process for all of the organisation to do. It’s so visual that it lends itself well as a workshop involving board and staff all together,” Ms Drew said.

You may also want to consider talking to relevant stakeholders, partners and colleagues about your Theory of Change for industry feedback.

How do I build a Theory of Change?

Many organisations contract an experienced Theory of Change consultant. Provided they are briefed well and have a solid understanding of your organisation, then it is certainly worth investing the money.

If you don’t have the budget for a consultant, there are many resources online which outline the Theory of Change process. It’s also worth checking out the Creating a co-design Theory of Change booklet created by the Queensland Disability Network. While this booklet is for inclusion projects, it provides an easy to understand overview of the Theory of Change process and how you could implement it in your organisation in a fun and interactive way.

Attend a Theory of Change workshop

A great way to learn how the Theory of Change framework can work for you is to attend a workshop where you can learn the process. Armed with the resources, knowledge and tools you can walk your organisation and key stakeholders through the process and develop your own framework.

One such workshop is the CSIA Inclusion Ready Project Stories of Change to Theories of Change workshops. Participants reported they are taking the skills and knowledge to apply to the wider business, as well as grants like the Information, Linkages and Capacity Building (ILC) grants.

Dr Samantha Abbato from Visual Insights People has been working with CSIA to deliver the series of workshops as part of the Inclusion Ready Project. Dr Abbato employs a dynamic and collaborative approach in her Stories of Change to Theories of Change workshops.

But don’t take our word for it… here is some feedback from participants about what they took away from the workshop. Participants leave with the ability to tell their story in a meaningful way and a tool to bring about change in their organisation.

If you are looking to develop a Theory of Change for inclusion, Dr Abbato will be facilitating a series of workshops as part of the second phase of Inclusion Ready. Sign up to Ignite below to be the first to receive information.