Can we talk about logic models?

Over a year ago I had the pleasure of co-presenting on logic models to a group of individuals from non-profit organizations. The presentation included time to discuss the pros and cons of the logic model. This really gave my team and I the ability to work through the problems with the attendees. The most voiced problem?

Logic models don’t adapt to the program. This was followed by viewing logic models as tedious and an unnecessary burden. Both are good points, but they are easily debunked! Fast forward a few months, and I was presenting on an entirely different topic at the American Evaluation Association…guess what came up? You guessed it, logic models and their limitations. Unsurprisingly, the perception of logic models was that they take up a lot of time, and they can limit programs — simply because they don’t change with the program.

My response? Both are valid limitations. At the same time, the deficiencies of logic models are really our fault. When we fail to develop a sound logic model, it really is just another document. Tedious. More paperwork than we need. Oh, and it ends up not being used for accountability purposes. Secondly, when logic models are not maintenance regularly, they become outdated and relatively unhelpful to organizations.

Okay, so what do we do? The first thing is stop letting the idea that a logic model needs to fit on a single page document get in our way. You see…when we write an incomplete document, of course it becomes worthless. Instead, develop a tool that you can use — you might be surprised how often you will actually use it. In my opinion, brainstorming makes all the difference in making a meaty document.

The second thing is be better than the out dated document. Has your program changed? Have new inputs or outcomes? Add them! You can’t use logical modeling to its full potential if you start leaving crap out. What sense does that make? Therefore, find the appropriate timeframe for updating your logic model. For some, it might be once a month. Others it might need to be updated every few months.

A logic models is a tool that is as good as the effort you put into developing them. I have found them to be extremely beneficial for getting a quick overview as a program. They are also great for reviewing the intended outcomes of a program. You might also notice gaps in the ways you are trying to reach your impacts. Be smart. Don’t just make a logic model — make a thought out and LIVE logic model.

Need help with your logic model? Let’s chat. I also have some resources for you below.

W.K. Kellogg Foundation
Pell Institute

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