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Tools for change

Neither sport nor change can happen without support and successful interventions, which have to consider the broader context in which they are operating or likely to operate in the future. An awareness of the external environment helps you identify opportunities as well as challenges.

Theory of change

A theory of change is a specific method – or way of thinking – for the planning, participation and evaluation of activities. It is used by many philanthropic, not-for-profit and government organisations to act on promoting social change. It usually starts with people thinking about their long-term goals before working backwards to identify challenges and opportunities.

A theory of change is essentially an illustration (diagram) of how a desired change is expected to happen in a particular context or set of contexts.

Diagram of theory of change,  identify problem, identify desired results, then identify the actions required to achieve the results Theory of change (download as a pdf file)

It is often complemented by a theory of action narrative consisting of statements such as “if we do this, assuming a particular context, then this will happen…”. A theory of change is conceptual and illustrates the plausibility of a programme achieving its intended impact.

STEPE for assumption review

STEPE helps us understand our assumptions and factors that may contribute to or undermine a programme. It is also a way of understanding risks and challenges. It forces us to consider a range of external issues that might impact upon a unit or organisation and its use of sport as a tool to produce effective change.

The STEPE analysis is used to map out up to five external forces or influences per heading – (S) social, (T) technological, (E) economic, (P) political and (E) environmental influences. This enables an assessment to be made of the context in which your unit/agency/organisation is planning to use sport and development or an aspect of it. You might also have come across PEST and PESTLE analysis tools, these are based on the same assumption review approach, with an additional legislative (L) dimension.

Diagram of STEPE headingsSTEPE model (download as a pdf file)

STEPE is a technique that helps you reflect upon the bigger picture whilst creating your theory of change. Using such techniques to draw out stories or narratives about sport and development helps to enable the consideration of a range of future considerations in a fast changing context.

Logic model

A logic model is a planning tool with a matrix structure, which provides an overview of a project’s goal, activities and anticipated results. Logic models provide a process for thinking through the design of the programme and ensuring it will achieve the desired goals. It also supports programme monitoring and evaluation before, during and after implementation.

Logic models are the actionable outcome of a theory of change, which has already required you to outline activities of an initiative, aligned with required outcomes, but guides towards implementation of the initiative in meaningful, actionable (and evaluable) steps.

Logic model showing Inputs, Outputs: activities and participation and Outcomes: short medium and long term Logic model (download as a pdf file)

Using the tools together

A theory of change provides the basis of your development planning - it identifies what is expected to happen. A STEPE analysis can inform this planning process, help you to consider wider implications, and test assumptions. A logic model is a matrix-based planning tool, based on your theory of change, to provide detail of activities for implementation and anticipated results.

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This article is from the free online course:

Sport for Sustainable Development: Designing Effective Policies and Programmes

The International Platform on Sport and Development