A pragmatic approach to assessing system change

Overview paper

Published by
Miehlbradt Consulting / DCED / HPC / Springfield Centre

Planning for and assessing system change is a strategic management issue. It is critical for everything from developing a strategy and designing interventions, to adapting strategy, improving implementation and reporting impact.

But many programmes get stuck when it comes to assessing system change. The private sector development field has struggled to agree on an approach that programmes can implement and stakeholders can understand.

However, some mature programmes are starting to assess system change more effectively. Building on these emerging practices, this overview paper summarises the approach that programmes can use to assess system changes regularly and practically.

It explores how to:

  • develop a system change strategy and intervention plans that lay the groundwork for system change assessment, including how to set system boundaries and how to identify the system changes a programme aims to catalyse
  • assess system changes using both:
      - an intervention lens focused on changes introduced by specific interventions
      - a helicopter lens that provides a whole system view

By analysing findings from both lenses, programmes can improve their strategy and report on their contribution to system change.

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