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Becoming a program logic model architect

Once you are clear on your program goal and objectives, the next step in the planning process is to create a detailed program description, design and rationale of the components of the program to ensure it will create the change you seek.

Questions to consider at this stage of the process include:

  • What strategies are needed to achieve the vision and goals?
  • How will you take into account the ethical, social and environmental factors inherent in social programs?
  • How will the program be implemented, including the arrangements for monitoring and evaluating progress towards achieving the vision and goals?

Developing a program logic model can help us articulate answers to these questions.

Benefits of Program Logic

A program logic model is a useful way to illustrate how a program works, by outlining all of the components and intended outcomes for the program. At a fairly quick glance, it should tell us what the program is, what is intends to achieve, and how success will be measured. A program description includes the following components:
»» Need
»» Target group
»» Outcomes expressed as objectives
»» Activities
»» Outputs- tangible products
»» Resources- inputs
»» Relationships of activities and outcomes

It is common to represent a program logic visually in a linear flow diagram, however it can also be represented in a non-linear diagram, a table or a narrative description. We have included an example of a logic model below [1], but remember that these models can come in all shapes and sizes.

Program Logic Model
Adapted image from http://learningforsustainability.net/evaluation
Assessing Logic Models

Components in a program logic model

The components in a standard program logic model are the inputs, activities, outputs, next users/ participants, the hierarchy of outcomes and the program goals. There are some elements that can accompany the model such as contextual factors, the problem or need to be addressed, the theory of how the program creates change and the assumptions behind the model. However these elements usually exist in accompanying text so as not to make the model too messy and confusing, particularly if it will also be used as a communication tool.

Program Logic Components

Program theory

All programs are likely to have a theory of how and why they work and will achieve the desired goals, whether this is explicitly stated or not. An explicit statement of how and why a program creates change is referred to as the theory of change. The theory of change may be devised by program stakeholders, program staff and/or by looking at academic literature and research. Often this is not explicit in a program logic model, but can be articulated alongside so that it is clear how the program will create change. Evaluation tests the theory to see if it works.

Drawing out program theories

The program theory can be used to design the activities and to ensure the approach will meet the intended outcomes. When a theory is not explicit or examined, the activities that are chosen can be those that are familiar or rely on assumptions. For example, a program might focus on changing individual knowledge and skills, but find that this only leads to short term gains. To sustain a change in behaviour and address the root cause of a problem, it is often required to work against deeply engrained habits, whilst building the practice of conscious decision making, as well as changing the contextual factors that enable the behaviour, such as resources, infrastructure and social norms [3].


1] Learning for sustainability. (2019). Retrieved from http://learningforsustainability.net/plan-monitor-evaluate/
2] Funnell, S. C., & Rogers, P. J. (2011). Purposeful program theory: effective use of theories of change and logic models (Vol. 31). John Wiley & Sons.
3] Michie, S., van Stralen, M. and West, R. (2011). The behaviour change wheel: A new method for characterising and designing behaviour change interventions. Implementation Science, 6:42.

Who We Are

CFRE works directly with agencies and project teams to help them achieve their goals and priorities. From senior leadership groups to small program teams, our consultants walk alongside you to guide the design, development and improvement of your programs and services.

For more information, contact the team at cfre@ds.org.au

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