How a logic model can help you develop your strategy
“This work has given the charity’s CEO a framework to undertake the operational planning that will give the greatest chances of success in delivering its strategic goals.”
Setting organisational strategy is often complex and can seem like an impenetrable task. Basic questions like “Where do we start?” and “Who should be involved?” can often prevent progress in getting going. Considering priorities, goals and long-term objectives without looking through the lens of the current operation can also be a challenge, which can limit strategy development to operational performance improvement.
Develop a logic model
The three key factors that should define your organisational strategy are your goals or ambitions, your current capabilities and your external environment or the problem(s) you are working to solve. A very good way to define your charity’s goals is to develop a logic model for your work.
The most basic logic model is an IPO – Input > Process > Output. However, the Kellogg logic model introduces the strategic elements of outcomes and impact. Both outcomes and impact are measures of change. The difference between them is that if the change you are seeking to affect leads to another desired change, it is an outcome. If the change in question is the end goal of your work, it is an impact measure.
Defining the impact that you want your charity to have, the outcomes that will deliver this impact and how these will be measured is most of the heavy lifting needed to develop or review your vision and mission.
Prioritise strategic routes
During this process we often talk about “right to left thinking”, where you start with the final intended impact and work backwards logically from there to identify the sequences of outcomes that connect any activity your charity undertakes to this impact. Some outcomes at the start of the process might be internally focused and relate to your own resources or capabilities.
Setting out these logical pathways from the outputs that your operation delivers to their intended impact will help you to prioritise different strategic routes, which may be different in the short, medium and long term. Communicating your priority outcomes will help bring key audiences on board with any new strategic direction you set.
When developing your logic model, you should identify different levels of outcome you are looking to deliver. These might be expressed as spheres of influence, eg individual > family > community or sequential changes in individuals, eg circumstances > emotional state > capabilities > life chances.
Define impact and outcomes
Here’s an example of how I facilitated this process recently.
Transform Work UK, a well-established Christian ministry, wanted to develop a 2021-26 strategy with a new chair also seeking to input some ideas about how the ministry could expand. Some strategic thinking had been done and an outline strategic plan written but there was a need for clarity about how the charity would move forward from its current position to achieve its ambitious goals.
I started with a virtual engagement workshop at the charity’s annual away day for all staff and volunteers, in which we explored how those attending would know their work had been successful. I followed this up with a full virtual board workshop using Mural to introduce the Kelogg logic model framework and begin to define the impact and outcomes the board wanted the charity to deliver.
Based on content developed in the board workshop, I worked with the charity’s chair and CEO to establish a strategy sub-committee to do the detailed work of defining priority outcomes before these were presented to and adopted by the board. I delivered five one-hour virtual workshops for the strategy sub-committee, where we agreed the impact and outcomes the charity would aim to deliver, developed a full logic model between five different levels of outcomes and the charity’s intended impact, prioritised short-, medium- and long-term outcomes and agreed an evidence and reporting framework for short-term priority outcomes.
Manage important relationships
Throughout the process I was cognisant that relationships, particularly between the CEO and the Chair of a charity, are of paramount importance to the ongoing work of steering organisational strategy, so I took time to speak individually to them to ensure they felt sufficiently listened to and that all critical issues were discussed in the workshops. As a result, the group was able to make explicit some aspects of the charity’s purpose and goals that had not previously been well articulated.
This work has given the charity’s CEO a framework to undertake the operational planning that will give the greatest chances of success in delivering its strategic goals. I have subsequently used the logic model and outcomes framework to produce key messages for donors and other funders to engage them with the new strategy.
Keep it fresh
Just a footnote on the ongoing work of strategy development. It is easy for organisational strategies to be made to look presentable by adding graphics and pictures, only to then gather dust for the next five years. The reality is that most strategy is not fulfilled, as conditions change and lessons learnt take organisations in different directions. It is, therefore, important to implement the appropriate measurement, governance and processes for continually updating your organisational strategy.
If you would like to speak to Andrew about developing your strategy, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Andrew Humphreys is a service improvement and change specialist with a deep understanding of organisational cultures and how to affect change within them. He has worked for nearly 20 years in the voluntary and public sectors, mostly in a management capacity, and now works as a consultant to improve the quality of work in these sectors.