Systems thinking and evaluation is a hot topic these days, and as someone who spends a fair bit of time in evaluation capacity building, it has me thinking a lot about logic models. Some of you might recall a post I did for AEA365 back in 2014 on “Are Logic Models Passé?’, where I mused about the utility of static logic models in highly dynamic and complex programs.
Since then I’ve been on the hunt for examples of more “fuzzy” logic models but have only been able to find one example. Which leads me to wonder if what programs really need is not something “fuzzy”, but rather something that is both structured and flexible at the same time. Sort of like Lego™.
Imagine that a program is a bridge, designed to get people from one side of a canyon to another. The program logic model is the bridge’s design, and the better the design, the greater the chances of receiving funding to build it. The bridge construction initially occurs according to plan, however, as time goes on things come up and the bridge contractor wants to make some changes. What do you do? Stick with the original design but risk not reaching the other side? If your bridge is made of steel or concrete, you’re stuck moving forward. But if you build it with Lego™, it’s easier to swap pieces in and out, without having to demolish the whole bridge. Eventually you’ll get to the other side, but maybe the bridge looks a bit different than you originally intended.
I know that some funders and government departments aren’t comfortable with the idea of “fuzzy” and I can appreciate that. Perhaps a Lego™ bridge is something more in line with their needs.
Rad Resource: For a quick overview of systems thinking and evaluation, check out this five minute video.
The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Logic Model Week. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from evaluators who have used logic models in their practice. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.