Logframe logic


Recently Rick Davies eloquently wrote in his blog (‘Rick on the Road’: http://mandenews.blogspot.com/) about different ways that people articulate program logic in logframes.

This is an issue that I’ve also battled, and have written about elsewhere (http://www.aid-it.com/Portals/0/Documents/070105_Aristotle%20and%20Plato%20at%20it%20again.pdf). 

Many users of logframes seem to lose sight of the fact that the ‘vertical logic’ is supposed to describe the temporal sequence of change.  That is, how a particular project is anticipated to contribute to social change through time.  Instead, some folk use the vertical logic to systematically disaggregate the problem…in what Rick succinctly decribes as a “hirerearchy of inclusion”.  An analogy of this approach to program logic is:

* the Goal = a wall
* the Purpose = the bricks that make up the wall
* the Outputs = the sand and cement that make up the bricks
* the Acivities = the molecules that makes up the grains of sand and cement
etc…

This approach to logic derives from Aristotle (and has been called ‘functionalism’), and holds a certain appeal for organising the ‘the problem’ into bite size pieces.  But this approach loses sight of the mechanics of social change…which afterall is what the logframe is supposed to describe.  If you draw a line along a wall that represents the linear passage of time, and then cut out the ‘cells’ of a logframe prepared using this form of logic, in many cases you would find it difficult to distribute the ‘cells’ meaningfully along the timeline.  They would tend to cluster around a paticular point in time rather than elaborating a process of social change through time.  Also the the interplay betweeen key classes of human actor would likely be abstract…i.e. it would not necessarily be explicit which classes of human actor are invovled at each stage of change.

An alternative approach to logic derives from Plato and has been called ‘interpretivism’, since it aims to ‘interpret’ logic through the eyes of human actors.  This approach to logic makes explicit the role of key classes of human actor within the overall social change process.  Each class of human actor either influences or is influenced, or both…

* Goal = significant and lasting changes anticipated in the lives of the ultimate beneficiaries (e.g. households with improved livelihoods)
* Outcomes = changes in knowledge/attitude/practice influenced among intermediary stakeholders (e.g. government extension workers with better capacity)
* Outputs = deliverables of the project implementing team aimed to iniate the change process (e.g. training of governement extension workers)

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link to The 'theory of change' approach

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For a long time, I’ve been using the phrase ‘theory of change’ to express the idea that a project is essentially a social experiment, and that M&E is about testing the hypotheses implicit in the social experiment.  Recently I was challenged to succinctly elaborate what I thought embodied the ‘theory of change’ approach.  The following […]