Windows on the world: The power of assumptions in uncertain times

Strong theories of change

What are assumptions?

Why do assumptions matter?

Prioritise your assumptions

  • It is a central storyline for the initiative (your story of how change is supposed to happen);
  • Lots of arrows = main channel/pathway (a lot of outputs lead to this outcome);
  • Lots of actors have a stake (positive or negative) in the materialisation of the outcome.
  • Limited evidence of what works in this context (need for further investigation);
  • Low level of agreement on stakeholders’ preferences or what will work (diverse perspectives);
  • Highly exposed to external threats (e.g. political reshuffles, climate shocks).

Disaggregate your assumptions

Test your assumptions



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Thomas Aston

Thomas Aston

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