In a previous post we talked about creating a compelling shared vision, which is the starting point for any strategy that has a chance co working the real world where the outcomes we hope to achieve are more than we can bring about through our own action.
Now, in the next post in this series about strategic leadership, it's time to talk about strategy: how do we actually contribute the most we possibly can to the change we envision out in the world? In this post we'll focus in on one of the foundational elements of strategy: your theory of action.
How you carry out your mission
Consistent with your values
In order to maximize your potential impact in pursuit of your vision
These two terms get thrown a lot in strategic planning processes and it's important to understand the difference.
As illustrated here, there can be many steps between the actions you take and the ultimate outcomes you envision as a change agent. Your theory of change speaks to the big picture about how you believe change occurs, and your theory of action focuses in on the part of that bigger picture that involves your actions.
Theory of change: how the change we envision in the world is created, including all the key contributing factors, even those over which we have no control or influence
Theory of action: how we will directly produce a specific output that plays a role in creating the change we envision
Start with the theory of change, looking for key levers to create the change you are seeking in the world.
Then look for whatever within the theory of change is within your span of control and/or influence and engage in those actions in order to maximize your contribution to the change you envision
Action Evaluation Collaborative is a consultancy specializing in helping advance social change and they have a wealth of open source tools available for change agents. Their framework for creating a theory of action is both simple and straightforward--it's a great starting point for turning theory into practice in pursuit of your vision for a better world.
Source: Action Evaluation Collaborative
Check out the video to walk through these steps in more detail--and download the deck and other helpful materials from Action Evaluation Collaborative here.
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These are the same materials we use with the social entrepreneurs in our accelerator program and the funders we coach one on one. The world has never been more in need of a new, greatest generation of change agents and that's why we're opening up free access to these materials to anyone who's ready to make use of them!