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Step - Purpose, scope and development
by Changeroo
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Some choices sometimes remain implicit even though they have a large bearing on the ToC that you develop. Therefore, it’s important to make these choices explicit so that everyone is aware of them. As part of the narrative, you provide here information on the following:



The purpose refers to the reason behind the ToC’s development, and how it will be used. We identify five most frequent recurring purposes of ToCs – although these inevitably overlap:



The scope represents the boundaries of your ToC: what is and what isn’t considered or included as you develop your ToC? The ToC’s purpose will lead the choices to be made here. The scope may include:

Illustration: Better apples – better quality of life
This initiative brings small and marginal apple growers to organise as farmer associations and companies so that they could add value both in the cultivation and post cultivation process that would enable them to fetch a better price from markets. The overall goal of the initiative is to secure the livelihood of small and marginal farmers who grow apples. The initiative is carried out in four areas. The following exercise was done in one area which covers 22 villages. The participants formulated the boundaries in the following way:
    » Time frame of the overall project: 6 years
    » No. of villages: 22
    » No. of farmer members in the society: 422
    » Extent of land: 1,000 Acres (approx) spread over four production belts
    » Production of apples in the area: 37,000 boxes (740 MT)
    » Production during the last two years: 15,000 – 20,000 Boxes
    » Four production belts: Kumola, Kantadi, Karala, Mairana

At What Level and from Whose Perspective is the ToC Approach Meant to Function?

“Whose ToC is it?” is an important question that the organisation that leads the ToC development process should ask itself. ToCs can be developed for different, though interdependent, levels. Defining this level is essential for the clarity and practicality of a given ToC and its associated intervention.Stein, D., & Valters, C. (2012) Understanding ‘theory of change’ in international development: A review of existing knowledge. The Asia Foundation and The Justice And Security Research Programme, For example, while a general ToC for an organisation may guide programming decisions, a program ToC may inform a project ToC, and a project ToC informs a project’s implementation on the ground.

Throughout the Changeroo application, we refer to these levels as ‘organisation’, but this therefore also can refer to a project, program, sector, partnership, business unit, etc.

Besides the ToC’s level, you should specify the specific ‘organisation’ from whose perspective the ToC approach is meant to function. Other partners should be involved in developing the ToC, however, it will be the organisation specified here that will use the ToC to guide its decision-making process. In this regard, it is the specific organisation whose ToC it is.

It is important to realize, however, that the ToC is not restricted to what the organisation does and influences. A ToC looks at all the preconditions to your vision of success, irrespective of whether the organisation whose perspective the ToC takes, engages with these preconditions by itself or not.See also “ToC as an ecosystem that intervenes in a social system


Defining your scope calls for an ecosystem analysis to identify the stakeholders whose contributions, perspectives, motives and concerns are to be considered and included in your ToC. These are the people and organisations that are affected as well as those that influence your vision of success, whether positively or negatively, and whether intentional or unintentional.

This may just be a couple of sentences listing these stakeholders and the reason for including them. But you can also include your full analysis from which you decided which stakeholders to include and which not. You may also want to mention the stakeholders purposely left out, and how you’ve come to your prioritization of stakeholders. Preferably, this has been a selection process together with other actors.

You can involve the stakeholders in the ToC’s Development process (see the third component of this step). But including a specific stakeholder in the Scope of your ToC, means you incorporate that stakeholder’s role in the actual ToC product. You may include their inputs, activities, outputs, outcomes, impact and context elements as part of your ToC, but only if important enough for your vision of success. It is still your ToC, but it also takes into account the interests and influence of other stakeholders.

As a stepping stone, some might choose to start their ToC with only those aspects that their organisation controls. The scope is then more limited. A more ambitious and richer ToC offers a fuller picture of the system that your organisation tries to change. This includes the actors and aspects your organisation has no control over but that do influence your vision of success.

Questions to Ask


Expert Lenses

Development process

In this section of the narrative you describe the process you have been through and will continue to go through to create and revise your ToC. What are the processes and mechanisms in place? To what extend does the ToC include the perspective of various actors and in which areas of the ToC did you encounter different views? Etc.

Expert Lenses


Boundary choices

There are different types of boundaries to consider when defining the boundaries of a ToC articulation process. Boundaries need to match what is:

  • Realistic in terms of expectations of what lies within the sphere of influence of your organisation.
  • Feasible in terms of what the organisation is able to facilitate and manage.
  • Fitting in terms of levels of complexity, matching the type of dynamics and uncertainties involved.

  • In line with the scale of your mission, in terms of the domain of change in which you intend to make a difference. This may range from small and focused to wide and comprehensive.
  • Appropriately connected to other stakeholders’ activities, in terms of the breadth of range of stakeholders to be considered in the picture.
  • Both right and opportune in terms of controversiality. Some issues will be sensitive, also in the process of articulating ToCs. How far to press on before required collaboration will be jeopardised? This also relates to the type of power relations involved and how deep engagement in this can or should go.
  • Within a relevant time perspective, which involves a question of sustainability and how far your organisation needs to ‘think into the future’ to understand change assumptions. It also relates to the level of (strategic) foresight required.

* S. Wigboldus & J. Brouwers (2011) Rigid plan or vague vision: How precise does a ToC needs to be? Available here.

Venn Diagrams

A venn diagram uses multiple overlapping closed circles placed around each other to map the most important relations between stakeholders. Each circle represents a stakeholder group. Represent their importance by the size of the circle. Show the level of interaction between stakeholder groups in the overlap or distance of the circles from them. To distinguish whether they influence change positively, negatively or both, add colours to the circles.

* The State of Victoria Department of Environment and Primary Industries (2014). The Engagement Toolkit, Book 3, Version 4, page 122.

Prioritising Stakeholders

AccountAbility offers two tools. The first suggests prioritising stakeholders on the maturity of the issues they raise. The second tool suggests prioritising on the influence and dependence of stakeholders.

* AccountAbility, pages 40-46 of The Practitioners’ Handbook on Stakeholder Engagement (Volume 2).

Rich Picture

A rich picture consists of pictures, text, symbols and icons, which are all used to illustrate graphically the situation. This can be done as a group exercise, where you ask a group to make a drawing of a situation that illustrates the main elements and relationships, including stakeholders and context. It is called a rich picture because it illustrates the richness and complexity of a situation. It is also rich because, it both evokes and records an insight into the situation under consideration.

* Oakden, J. (2014). If a picture paints a thousand words: The use of rich pictures in evaluation. Kinnect Group. Available here.

* Multi-Stakeholder Processes Knowledge Co-Creation Portal on rich picture.

Social Network Analysis

Social network analysis is particularly useful for mapping the interrelationship among stakeholders and their behaviour. Such understanding can be used to think about how the “social architecture” can be improved to support the organisation’s vision of success.

* C. Prell, K. Hubacek & M. Reed, Stakeholder analysis and social network analysis in natural resource management, Society and Natural Resources, 22(6): 501-518.2009