Deep dive into results chain
Results chain can loosely be described as diagrams or a map exhibiting a series of statements linking short, medium, and long-term results of an impact project. Simply put, the three basic components of a results chain—strategy, expected outcomes, and the desired impact – can help an organization define its objectives and goals that describe the desired future outcomes and impacts.Results chains can loosely be described as diagrams or a map exhibiting a series of statements linking short, medium, and long-term results of an impact project. Simply put, the three basic components of a results chain—strategy,… Click To Tweet
One advantage of using results chains is that they help exhibit more details and chalk out the direct relationship between results. Before we go on to understand results chains and how impact project managers can work with them, let’s see how they are different from Theory of Change.
Results chains and Theory of Change
In our previous blogs, we had discussed the significance of the Theory of Change (ToC) and what it stands for. It is a methodology that defines long term goals and maps it backward to identify the necessary preconditions to achieve the desired result. The results chain, on the other hand, can be described as a diagram or the graphic representation of the ToC and is a type of logic model. Therefore, results chains or such ‘logic models’ are tools used to depict the ToC.
According to the Donor Committee for Enterprise Development (DCED), “results chain is a visual tool to show what the program is doing, and why. They clarify the ‘logic’ of the program, by showing how activities will lead to outputs, outcomes, and eventually development impact. Results chains are also known by a variety of other names such as causal models, causal chains, impact models or impact logics”.
- Why the results chains?
One definitive thing about the results chain is that it helps impact project managers and their teams focus on results rather than actions. It represents and articulates the ToC and document assumptions. Remember, assumptions are justifications of the preconditions set by you. These logic models can help in making explicit assumptions about how the strategies put in place can help in achieving the desired results.
Results chains also help define results expected at multiple levels and set realistic timeframes. They help determine what strategic approaches work and the ones that are completely ineffective and why. With the help of results chains, the ToC can be refined and discussed in depth.
Also, out of a sea of potential objectives, results chains can help organizations narrow down the ones that will help them determine the effectiveness and robustness of their ToC.
Tip: A results chain must be simple, uncomplicated, result-oriented, and must demonstrate change. It should be casually linked and reasonably complete. Avoid using too many boxes as it makes your results chain look complex.
- How to develop and work with results chains
Start by developing a very simple chain or a framework based on the relevant factors.
“Most programmes starting with results chains for the first time, find it most effective to start with a blank sheet of paper. They should list their main activities, and think about why these activities are important. This identifies desired changes that the activities will plausibly trigger. Ultimately results chains through a simple diagram helps programmes realistically illustrate why they are doing what they are doing; how their individual work would help in achieving development impact; and provide the basis for assessing if and to what extent changes are taking place,” states a DCED report.
You may begin by establishing the ‘strategy’ or the interventions for which a thorough and in-depth knowledge about the concerned sector is significant. You cannot set out to create an impact without knowing the subject matter thoroughly.
Then define the project or activities to be undertaken to achieve the goal and sequence various activities.
Tip: You may want to work backward by listing the goal first then adding activities needed to trigger the desired change. You may find it useful to map different stakeholders.
“The results chain can then be drawn which essentially shows how programme activities will trigger changes for the stakeholders to achieve development goals in the end.”
Now, define the changes that stem from undertaking the activities (outputs). Once you have developed your results chain, link objectives and goals to it and identify indicators to monitor the effectiveness of your strategy.
We hope this article will help you understand the results chain better and implement it in your work. Share this article with your team members to help them understand about results chain as well!
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