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Theme - Trade-offs
by Changeroo
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The trade-offs theme refers to or exists when performing better at one ToC element, will mean performing worse on another element. A trade-off is therefore a compromise inherent in your ToC. After all, sometimes you don’t see a realistically feasible way to improve on one ToC element without performing worse on another, and choices need to be made.

One potential cause for a trade-off is when a negative side-effect is beyond your control. Another cause could be that the existing level of technology is not yet at a level where you can operate in a way that is for example environmentally sustainable.

You explain the trade-offs and the choices you’ve made, including what you do to mitigate trade-offs. This theme therefore clarifies the hierarchy in objectives: i.e. which objectives are given higher priority than others.

Trade-offs come in two forms:

  1. Negative side-effects. Negative effects from an activity that also generates a positive outcome. One reason you might accept such a negative effect is because you don’t see another alternative to produce the positive outcome whose positive value you value higher than the costs of the negative effect. A common example is the environmental harm that some of your production activities might do.
  2. Opposing positive ToC elements. This concerns a situation where more of one positive outcome means less of another positive outcome. Then a choice has to be made for a balance between the two outcomes. One reason for such a trade-off might be available resources, which you can only spend once.

Stakeholder Engagement

Social organisations

Stakeholders can engage in multiple ways:

  • They provide solutions around trade-offs.
  • They can add their experiences about how the organisation’s decisions regarding trade-offs could work out, thereby providing knowledge that could possibly change the organisation’s choices.
  • They can add experiences about negative side-effects they might have experienced in the past, in addition to the positive effects, thereby pointing to new trade-offs to include.


As a stakeholder, this theme helps you understand some of the choices being made by the organisation. It clarifies the hierarchy in objectives of the organisation: i.e. which objectives are given higher priority than others.

Some of the purposes to engage on this theme:

  • You can suggest solutions around trade-offs the organisation experiences.
  • You may have relevant experiences about how the organisation’s decisions regarding trade-offs work out, thereby providing knowledge that could possibly change the organisation’s choices. Do bear in mind it’s about objective observations and please use the discussion page in case of more subjective experiences.
  • You may add experiences about negative side-effects you experience in addition to the positive effects, thereby pointing to new trade-offs to include. But also bear in mind that a ToC presents only the most important trade-offs.

Questions to Ask

  • What choices do we feel confronted with in our day to day activities, i.e. in implementing our ToC?
  • What would it take to perform better on certain ToC elements? Would that involve performing less on other ToC elements?
  • What negative side-effects do our day to day activities produce and why do we accept them?
  • Are there ToC elements in conflict with each other, particularly outcomes and impact, that we feel there’s friction between them? Do such conflicts stem from a trade-off?

What to Describe

Typical information to include about a trade-off:

  • Description of the trade-off, the ToC elements involved and why you belief there’s a trade-off.
  • The type of trade-off, i.e. are you accepting a negative outcome to be able to generate another positive outcome, or are you accepting a reduced positive impact on one ToC element because you need to choose between different positive impacts?
  • Explain the balance that you’ve chosen between the conflicting ToC elements. Explain the different scenarios you considered in achieving the vision and the trade-off considerations in deciding which scenario to go for.
  • Consequences for stakeholders of the trade-off and the choices made.
  • Steps taken to reduce negative (side) effects.

More About Trade-offs

Environmental Sustainability

One negative side effect often observed is the environmental damage as a result of the organisation’s day to day activities. If this damage is of strategic importance to the organisation and or the stakeholders considered in the ToC’s scope, you should include such negative outcomes in your ToC. The trade-off theme allows you to explain why you accept this negative outcome.

Community Guidelines

To make sure the Changeroo platform is a powerful vehicle for change, we’ve put together a few ground rules.

Content pages focus on consensus, integration of information and objective facts, instead of repetition and endless texts. Social organisations can open up these pages to stakeholder feedback and input.


  • Share your expertise and resources to be of influence and help social organisations move their social mission forward. Seek opportunities to contribute that align with your own values. Present yourself through your contributions.
  • Learn from stakeholders’ feedback and improve your understanding of an organisation.
  • Be constructive in your criticism.
  • Be open to disagreement and listen to other people’s opinions. Change happens when people with different backgrounds and perspectives can participate in a conversation.
  • Be reasonable, kind, respectful and use common sense.
    Do not use hate speech, do not impersonate others, do not violate others’ privacy, do not bully, do not be unnecessarily graphic, do not spam and do not break the law (which includes respecting copyrights in your posts).
  • Update your ToC with developments. When you’re candid with stakeholders and tell them what we do and don’t know and make them part of the process, it’s much more engaging for them.