Presently a number of ToC schools and practice emerge. For those involved in the Hivos ToC Initiative, the following elements indicate the quality of ToC thought and practice. Quality is a combination of the content, how it was constructed and its use.
1. Grounded in the context
A robust ToC, that is able to withstand critique, tells a clear ‘story’ about the actors and factors at play in a specific context and on a specific issue. In other words, the analysis of the system should be clear as well as how systemic changes are expected to emerge as a result of the actions of the intervention (ToA) and other actors and factors in the system (ToC).
2. Power analysis
If there is a thorough discussion on how power relations exist and how these might shift for those ignored, excluded or oppressed, then a ToC has considered ‘how change happens’ and the forces at play that help or hinder.
3. Regular adaptation of the ToC
If a ToC has never been adapted in the course of a programme or project’s life, its relevance is probably limited.
4. Comprehensive, especially with assumptions and values
A ToC is comprehensive when it discusses the context, especially power relations, values that underpin the analysis, actors involved in bringing about change and strategic options. In particular, the assumptions that are made about how change happens are explicit in robust ToCs.
5. Wide ownership
If the ToC is regularly used in discussion and communication both internally as well as externally and can be easily summarised verbally by a wide range of stakeholders, then ownership is high and use evident.
6. Active use of ToC in planning and M&E
Good quality ToC is recognised by explicit use in the strategic planning and in the design and practice of M&E.
Good quality ToC is recognised by documentation being available of different stages of ToC development and use (ToC visual summary, ToC paper, etc.), including changes in the ToC over time.