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Theory of Change and Strategic Planning


On this page we answer the question, what is Theory of Change and Strategic Planning?  We also explain why we think it’s important and our approach.

You can also view our related training courses, videos and news.  We also offer consultancyfacilitation and coaching on this subject.





At IMA, Theory of Change (ToC) is understood to be a thinking-action alternative to other more rigid approaches and planning logics. ToC is not only a tool but a way of understanding and learning about change. Since we live in a complex and, at times, conflictive era, we need more flexible instruments that enable our actions to be planned and monitored in complex, emerging and uncertain contexts. 

In an environment where theories of change amongst individuals or organisations coexist, power relations emerge regarding whose interpretation of social change prevails and informs decisions. 





We believe that when programme implementers and organisations are more aware of the complexity of how change happens - by exploring and making explicit the assumptions, mindsets, values and relationships that underlie their programmes’ logic - they can increase effectiveness and be more realistic about how to contribute to transformative changes.


By ‘transformative changes’ we mean those related to: individual and collective identities (i.e. by expanding the idea of what it is to be, for example, a woman, a Palestinian, or a rubber tapper in Brazil); mindsets (by being aware of how I/we think about things); relationships (by reflecting critically how I/we relate to others, both “uppers" and “lowers”, based on my/our new self-awareness).


In particular, we highlight the opportunity that ToC frameworks bring to social organisations, enabling them to focus on learning about change for achieving greater responsibility and accountability to both donors and end recipients of their programmes. 



A ToC should help us organise our thoughts and, based on our knowledge and experience, abstractly configure those conditions needed to achieve the desired change in a given context. This is partly done by making our assumptions explicit and by critically analysing them.

Using participatory methods we first uncover both personal and organisational assumptions which lie behind every intervention in the development context. We then explore these with a self-reflective process that enables participants to see and understand what type of social change they are contributing to. 




Dani Guijarro talks about 'Theory of Change'

TOC in action - WRAPA organisational assessment



Understand our contribution to social change

IMA News

Evaluation approaches training for WFP Asia Pacific region


Tags: Consultancy, Evaluation, WFP, Theory of Change, Silvia Capezzuoli


  • WHY: To strengthen the capacity of country office Monitoring and Evaluation officers responsible for managing decentralised evaluations
  • WHO: WFP Regional Bureau for Asia and Pacific
  • WHAT: Training on ‘Evaluation design and approaches’
  • WHERE: Bangkok, Thailand
  • WHEN: September, 2019

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  • WHY: To foster a real culture of M&E for improved organisational effectiveness
  • WHO: Botswana National Productivity Centre
  • WHAT: 5-day M&E for Results training and 3-day associated Training of Trainers
  • HOW: build M&E capacity for a cross section of 25 staff, and develop a cadre of consultants and researchers to support M&E practice in-house as well as in client-facing work
  • WHERE: Gaborone, Botswana
  • WHEN: February 2019

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  • WHY: To explore how to implement IMA´s Theory of Change approach and tool in the GP planning and M&E System.
  • WHO: Greenpeace
  • WHAT: Theory of Change training
  • HOW: 2 days workshop
  • WHERE: Spain
  • WHEN: June 2018

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  • WHY: To develop of what M&E means to ACRA.
  • WHAT: Monitoring and Evaluation
  • HOW: workshop
  • WHERE: Milan, Italy
  • WHEN: September 2017

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  • WHY: To harmonise the different components of the National Multi-sector Action Plan and to make explicit clear pathways on how to fight stunting and reduce malnutrition in Tanzania.
  • WHO: Tanzania Food and Nutrition Centre
  • WHAT: Facilitation of a 4 days multi-stakeholder workshop on Theory of Change and Complexity
  • HOW: A different range of participatory tools was utilised during the process, including embodied learning, reflective practice and constellation work
  • WHERE: Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania
  • WHEN: June – July 2016

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  • WHY: For the harmonisation of the staff around the concept of Theory of Change and Results Based Management. CTA was in the process of finalising their main result framework to be presented to the EU for further funding.
  • WHO: CTA – Technical Centre for Agriculture and Rural Cooperation ACP – EU
  • WHAT: Theory of Change and RBM lab, Design and facilitation of a 2 days’ workshop at CTA’s Headquarters. The contract is also part of an extended support in distance.
  • HOW: A log frame repair workshop and the classic Theory of Change workshop and Power Analysis.
  • WHERE: Wageningen, The Netherlands
  • WHEN: July 2016 – September 2016

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  • WHY: We were contacted to support a Theory of Change process for WWF Sweden in the designing of their rationale
  • WHO: WWF Sweden ToC - SIDA
  • WHAT: Supporting the next 5 years SIDA application process by WWF for the Role of Civil Society in Nature Conservation. 3 workshops organised plus webinars and distance support.
  • HOW: The 1st workshop had a basic ToC agenda with some critical question around the role of Civil Society in Nature Conservation. The 2nd workshop was a multi-stakeholder workshop with coordinators coming from over 10 Countries to start building together
  • WHERE: Stockholm, Sweden
  • WHEN: October 2016 - April 2017

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