Outcome Mapping

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All the partners in the FMFI project went through various forms of orientation on the Outcome Mapping methodology to gain a common understanding in the methodology and to emphasise the key issue of influencing changes in behaviour. The following extracts from the OM documentation is a broad orientation of the approach use in the FMFI project.

Outcome Mapping focuses on one particular category of results - changes in the behaviour of people, groups, and organizations with whom a program works directly. These changes are called "outcomes." Through Outcome Mapping, development programs can claim contributions to the achievement of outcomes rather than claiming the achievement of development impacts. Although these outcomes, in turn, enhance the possibility of development impacts, the relationship is not necessarily one of direct cause and effect. Instead of attempting to measure the impact of the program's partners on development, Outcome Mapping concentrates on monitoring and evaluating its results in terms of the influence of the program on the roles these partners play in development.

In the IDRC context, defining outcomes as "changes in behaviour" emphasizes that, to be effective, development research programs must go further than information creation and dissemination; they must actively engage development actors in the adaptation and application. Such engagement means that partners will derive benefit and credit for fulfilling their development roles whereas development programs will be credited with their contributions to this process. With Outcome Mapping, programs identify the partners with whom they will work and then devise strategies to help equip their partners with the tools, techniques, and resources to contribute to the development process. Focusing monitoring and evaluation on changes in partners also illustrates that, although a program can influence the achievement of outcomes, it cannot control them because ultimate responsibility for change rests with its boundary partners, and their partners and other actors. The desired changes are not prescribed by the development program; rather, Outcome Mapping provides a framework and vocabulary for understanding the changes and for assessing efforts aimed at contributing to them.

Outcome Mapping therefore:

  • Defines the program's outcomes as changes in the behaviour of direct partners
  • Focuses on how programs facilitate change rather than how they control or cause change
  • Recognizes the complexity of development processes together with the contexts in which they occur
  • Looks at the logical links between interventions and outcomes, rather than trying to attribute results to any particular intervention
  • Locates a program's goals within the context of larger development challenges beyond the reach of the program to encourage and guide the innovation and risk-taking necessary
  • Requires the involvement of program staff and partners throughout the planning, monitoring, and evaluation stages


Boundary Partners: Those individuals, groups, and organizations with whom the program interacts directly to effect change and with whom the program can anticipate some opportunities for influence.
Outcomes: Changes in relationships, activities, actions, or behaviours of boundary partners that can be logically linked to a program’s activities although they are not necessarily directly caused by it. These changes are aimed at contributing to specific aspects of human and ecological well-being by providing the boundary partners with new tools, techniques, and resources to contribute to the development process.
Progress Markers: A set of graduated indicators of changed behaviours for a boundary partner that focus on depth or quality of change

The first stage, Intentional Design, helps a program clarify and reach consensus on the macro-level changes it would like to support and to plan the strategies it will use. Outcome Mapping does not help a program identify programming priorities. It is only appropriate and useful once a program has chosen its strategic directions and wants to chart its goals, partners, activities, and progress toward anticipated results. After clarifying the changes the program intends to help bring about, activities are chosen that maximize the likelihood of success. The Intentional Design stage helps answer four questions:

The second stage, Outcome and Performance Monitoring, provides a framework for Ongoing monitoring of the program's actions in support of its boundary partners' progress towards the achievement of outcomes. The program uses progress markers, a set of graduated indicators of behavioural change identified in the intentional design stage, to clarify directions with boundary partners and to monitor outcomes (Outcome Journal). It uses a Strategy Journal (to monitor strategies and activities) and a Performance Journal (to monitor organizational practices) to complete a performance monitoring framework. This framework provides the program the opportunity and tools both to reflect on and improve performance and to collect data on the results of its work with its boundary partners.

The FMFI partners compiled the Intentional Design component of OM for their projects and speculated on the four main question of Why, How?, Who? and What?

1.Outcome Mapping; building learning and reflection into development programs, Sarah Earl, Fred Carden, Terry Smutylo, foreword by Michael Quinn Patton IDRC 2001 http://www.idrc.ca/booktique