Getting started

A critical step in Design is developing a Theory of Change (TOC) that draws on relevant research, practice expertise and client and community perspectives to illustrate how proposed strategies will achieve intended outcomes.

This could involve exploring Evidence-Based Programs, identifying and embedding evidence-informed practices into existing services, or developing a new ‘logic informed’ approach.

Your TOC should communicate how a program or service works; the causal links between strategies and outcomes and the underpinning evidence or assumptions.

Need help with developing a Theory of Change? Apply for OPEN IDEAS project support.

Exploring evidence-informed practices and programs

Look for reliable and up to date information and carefully consider your implementation context. Some key sites are:

Planning for implementation and monitoring

Before you put your design into action, it’s important to think about and assess a range of implementation considerations. This includes:

  • Organisational factors – staff, training and/or mentoring required to put the program into practice
  • Program characteristics – target population, adaptations, costs, tools and resources; and
  • Implementation elements – the approach and resources required
  • Monitoring processes – ethics, data collection, analysis and use for knowledge building and continuous improvement.

An Implementation Consideration Checklist has been developed to help inform decision-making processes before you begin the process of implementation.

Some helpful steps in the Design phase can include:

  1. Explore suitable practices and programs with colleagues, clients and communities
  2. Search for evidence-informed practices and programs that are aligned with the identified outcomes
  3. Develop a theory of change in partnership with key stakeholders

Try these techniques to help as you ‘Design’:

  • Review high-quality research and existing models and strategies aligned with identified outcomes
  • Consider how your design will be implemented: what will the program look like in practice?
  • Review existing program data and client feedback
  • Facilitate a Theory of Change workshop with key stakeholders
  • Review and revise the Theory of Change through consultation with key stakeholders and the data and evidence you have assembled.

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