ADAMH Week: Kathleen Ferreira on Keys to Successful Theory of Change Logic Model Consultation

I’m Dr. Kathleen Ferreira, Director of Research and Evaluation at the Center for Social Innovation in Needham Massachusetts and one of the chairs of the ADAMH TIG. I’ve spent a number of years providing technical assistance (TA) in theory of change logic model development in systems of care serving youth with behavioral health challenges. A number of TA recipients have one goal in mind: Complete and submit a logic model to the funder and check that required task off their list. However, carefully crafted logic models can serve as an important roadmap to meaningful change and goal attainment for organizations. I’d like to share some insights I’ve gleaned from my work.

Lesson Learned: Organizations must “own” the process. It is not uncommon for organizational leaders to assume that I will develop their logic model and submit to them a completed product. However, it is more important that I serve as a facilitator of its development and that organizations work through the process of developing a shared understanding of who they are (vision, mission, values), their intended service recipients (population), where they need to go (goals and outcomes), and how they will get there (strategies). Interestingly, many TA recipients assume that they are in agreement until they begin to articulate these components.

Lesson Learned: Inclusion is critical to success. Create a logic model team that includes participants at all levels of the organization (or system), including service recipients. A group that is too large can make it difficult to move forward. I recommend a group of 5-10 people on the core logic model team. I also chunk out the process instead of trying to complete it in one session. A one-hour meeting every 1-2 weeks gives team members time to work through components and gather feedback from more stakeholders. Also, do not exclude a “Negative Nellie” from the team. Although the work may be challenging at times, their direct participation creates buy-in, neutralizing their ability to create discord when the logic model is implemented.

Lesson Learned: “The best way out is always through.” This Robert Frost quote is a good mantra for the team. Developing a meaningful logic model takes work, and the process can be frustrating, especially when balancing many different personalities and priorities. Offer encouragement. Acknowledge that this is a difficult process, but remind the team that it will pay dividends.

Rad Resources: For helpful logic model resources and examples, see the work of my former colleagues at the University of South Florida and the Kellogg Foundation’s logic model guide:

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Alcohol Drug Abuse and Mental Health (ADAMH) TIG Week. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

1 thought on “ADAMH Week: Kathleen Ferreira on Keys to Successful Theory of Change Logic Model Consultation”

  1. In our work facilitating collaboration isn’t always easy; patience is key. Thanks for the reminder that “The best way out is always through.”

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