Pyramids, ladders, and traveling theories

Joan Miro, The Escape Ladder

Argument pyramids

Ladders of abstraction

Nested theories of change

  1. Narrative — elevator pitch — theory of change which describes in very general terms how the intervention is intended to work. This can be a general if… then, because statement of the key pathways of the intervention and its intended results.
  2. Overview — big picture — theory of change which provides a simplified model showing the main pathways to impact (including propositions) and any rationale assumptions (or paradigmatic and normative assumptions).
  3. Operational — causal — theory of change which unpacks key steps in impact pathways and articulates causal links (necessary events and conditions), as well as causal assumptions and implementation assumptions which apply to parts of the ToC but not the ToC as a whole (as in an overview theory).

Usefully transferable theory

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

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Thomas Aston

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