Hindsight > foresight > insight?

Wolfgang Tillmans, Lux

Theories of change and foresight

A few weeks ago, I wrote a response to Thomas Dunmore Rodriguez’s blog on whether theories of change are still useful? in the international development sector.

Pett, 2020: 16

Making bets about the future

Another area of work which complements both theories of change and foresight is around decision-making. Lynn rightly asserts that one area where theories of change are constrained is that they tend to be about “one possible, relatively narrow pathway into one possible future.” Some recent efforts have been made to develop adaptive log frames and to discuss “evolving theories of change,” but Lynn seems correct to argue that there is generally still too much faith in a single scenario and a single future.

Duke, 2020: 4

Challenging biases

For me, the most compelling part of Duke’s book comes from her background as a behavioural scientist, and her emphasis on how cognitive biases shape the bets we make about the future. In a previous blog, I argued that we need to be more explicit about our assumptions and analyse these more critically. In my view, evaluators and project managers both need to take cognitive biases more seriously.

I'm an independent consultant specialising in theory-based and participatory evaluation methods.