How to think about a theory of change

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways…

So all these years when I’ve been trying to figure out how to measure the impact of people ‘stuff’ and cultural change, I should have listened to Sonnet 43 and counted up all the different things we’d done to make employees feel positive about work. Not a bad idea but would it have accurately captured the bottom line impact on business productivity? It’s not easy to measure how much you love a person, a job or a business but we all know that the sweet stuff around people lies in that black box of engagement when it comes to differentiation and exceptional performance.

let me control you

I read somewhere that we default to measuring what we can most easily count. I’ve seen this in business time after time but the danger comes when these end up as the metrics that not only fall short of giving us an accurate picture of how the organisation is performing but also end up driving unhelpful behaviours. The 2008 banking crisis springs to mind…

let go

As we strive to create a world where we can better balance profit with people and planet, how do we successfully measure the inputs and outputs of powerful cultural change programmes for greatness when it comes to a more balanced and holistic business performance?

blue space

At Calm In A Box, we’ve started exploring the concept of the blue space. We know the problems that we are trying to support organisations to address – disengagement, inner conflict, burnout and demotivation – and we know where we are trying to get to – a CALM workplace where people can thrive for work/life brilliance. We also know that through the power of co-creation and test and learn, we can figure out with those involved what needs to happen in the blue space in-between to really get that shift to take place. But how do we track it and measure it?

what works?

We’ve started working with the What Works Centre for Wellbeing to really ensure that we are linking our work to those measures that are really key to individual and workplace wellbeing. Ultimately it comes down to job satisfaction and psychological safety. Having signposted the work by New Philanthropy Capital on Theory of Change, this is also proving a powerful way to shape up CALM change programmes in a way which build a compelling storyline for organisations around capturing the ROI of culture change through improving individual and organisational wellbeing.

theory of change

Good theories of change are a key component in any cultural change journey as they help organisations to gain a clear understanding of what they are aiming for, to think carefully about how they will achieve these aims and set themselves up for effective evaluation. Breaking the change process down into ten steps, organisations are encouraged to work backwards from the ideal outcomes they are seeking into the key activities which need to take place for those outcomes to be realised as well as becoming completely clear around the ‘problem’ they are trying to solve.
Applying the NPC Theory of Change framework to our CALM work with organisations has helped to more clearly structure and focus our effort as well as ensure we have greater clarity around evaluation and impact.