OUTCOME MAPPING – Building learning and reflection into development programs

Published: 2001
Author: Sarah Earl, Fred Carden & Terry Smutylo. Foreword by Michael Quinn Patton

More and more, development organizations are under pressure to demonstrate that their
programs result in significant and lasting changes in the well-being of their intended
beneficiaries.However, such “impacts” are often the product of a confluence of events for which
no single agency or group of agencies can realistically claim full credit. As a result, assessing
development impacts is problematic, yet many organizations continue to struggle to measure
results far beyond the reach of their programs.

Outcome Mapping recognizes that development is essentially about people relating to each
other and their environment. The originality of this approach lies in its shift away from assessing
the products of a program to focus on changes in behaviour, relationships, actions, and activities
in the people, groups, and organizations it works with directly. In doing so, Outcome Mapping
debunks many of the myths about measuring impact. It will help a program be specific about
the actors it targets, the changes it expects to see, and the strategies it employs and, as a result,
be more effective in terms of the results it achieves. This publication explains the various steps
in the outcome mapping approach and provides detailed information on workshop design and
facilitation. It includes numerous worksheets and examples.

Sarah Earl holds a master’s degree in Russian politics and development from Carleton
University and an MA in Russian history from the University of Toronto. She joined IDRC’s
Evaluation Unit in 1998. Fred Carden has taught and carried out research at York University, the
Cooperative College of Tanzania, the Bandung Institute of Technology (Indonesia), and the
University of Indonesia. Dr Carden is coauthor of Enhancing Organizational Performance
(IDRC 1999) and senior program specialist in IDRC’s Evaluation Unit. Terry Smutylo has been
the Director of IDRC’s Evaluation Unit since its creation in 1992. Mr Smutylo has worked
extensively throughout Asia, Africa, and Latin America, as well as in Canada, the United States,
and Europe, conducting evaluations, providing evaluation training, and facilitating workshops.