TOC builder

Alex Green

The challenge

Helping organisations develop their theory of change is one of NPC’s core consultancy services. But consultants can only help a fraction of the sector this way – some theory of change projects are too small to make it worth hiring a consultant and some organisations can’t afford any support at all. This currently results in many organisations investing in ill-defined programmes of activity without a clear pathway to creating impact or measuring it.

The opportunity

What if there was a digital platform for developing a simple theory of change, which steps you through the process with integrated training and guidance?

In phase 1 this might include:

    • Guided process
          • This should be a fairly simple linear process, but with some recursion loops. It needs to be an engaging interactive walkthrough of the process, blending TOC exercises (which might be done offline) with user input of descriptions and decisions. It needs to save progress.
          • Diagram builder 
            • This should produce a simple initial diagram from the data input through the guided process 
            • It should also enable some tweaks / edits (draggable components, colour selection) and the addition of feedback loops 
            • It should be possible to return to any of the prior stages of the CYOA walkthrough to edit or add data
            • Downloads / embeds
              • TOC diagram as svg, pdf, ppt
              • Embed TOC as zoom + pan image
              • It could also produce blank templates for next steps e.g. a measurement framework 
              • Activity guides (for offline group decision making)

      In the future this might include:

        • A TOC analyser based on a TOC data archive (harvested through free use of builder) enables cross-sector learning by:
          • Identifying similar orgs/programmes based on outcomes
          • Identifying where similar approaches have been used/tested
          • Identifying commonly used approaches for an outcome objective
          • Identifying evidence base for a particular approach (adapt UCL behaviour change ontology + import categorised evidence)
          • Aggregate/overview of sector information
        • Online chat / phone consultation / review service (micro-consultancy)
        • Peer review function
        • Measurement framework development as a second CYOA module
          • Shared measurement/data benchmarking platform
            • Connection to ethical analytics tool
        • Portfolio views 
          • Compare multiple TOCs for programmes in your org 
          • Compare orgs you fund (for funders / philanthropists)
            • Find duplication / crossover
            • Make union picture of outcomes

Prototype work in progress

Have a look at this prototype sketch and add comments! (If you click through the link you can see it better and comment)

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