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Weavers Triangle Guidance

Why use the Weaver’s Triangle?

This exercise enables your organisation to explore ways in which your mission is linked to your achievements and what you do on a daily basis. Questions you might ask yourselves to strengthen your organisation’s strategy using the Weavers Triangle

  • Are we clear about the outcomes of our organisation’s activities?
  • Do these outcomes contribute to achieving our aims?
  • Do these aims fit within our Mission and contribute to achieving our Mission?
  • Are there activities and outcomes which do not fit our mission and which we should drop – or do we need to re- visit our mission?

Monitoring and Evaluation can help you to work out what difference you make through your projects or programmes. Your organisation can then go on and learn from this and improve its performance in future.

The Weavers Triangle (see note below on its origin) is one tool that can help you think about your project and do planning, monitoring and evaluation of your work. It can both help you develop your organisation’s strategy or plans for its projects, as well as work out whether you are being successful in achieving what you set out to achieve. The Weavers Triangle is made up of an Aim, an Outcome and several Outputs – which are all logically linked as shown below:

 

The activities that your project carries out should create the Outputs planned.

These outputs then logically contribute to the delivery of the Outcome.

The outcome then logically contributes to the delivery of the long term Aim or impact.

 

 

 

What do the words mean?

1. Aims/Impact:

Before you can plan and evaluate successfully you need to think about what differences you hope to make in the longer term. Only then can you work out whether you have made a difference. This is different from describing your services and activities.

Your overall aim (sometimes called your ‘goal’ or ‘strategic objective’) tells everyone why your organisation or country programme exists and the broad, longer-term impact you want to have on the lives of the communities and people you work with.

Examples of an Aim:

  • To reduce mortality of children under 5 in Ethiopia.
  • Improved health among people living in region Y of India.

 

2. Outcome:

The Outcome should then identify what change will happen and who will benefit, within the time frame and control of the specific project you are planning. So the Outcome is more specific than an Aim but is still about the change that will happen, and clarifies the changes or differences we want to make. Usually you would have one main outcome per project, but it is possible to have two.  Outcomes statements should be realistic (achievable in a few years), largely within the power of your organisation, and simple. They often start with words such as increased / decreased or improved, and talk about things being developed or expanded.

So for example- a possible Outcome for the Aims above could read:

  • Improved use of Oral Rehydration Therapy (ORT) for managing childhood diarrhoea in 20 villages in district X of Ethiopia.

 

  • Increased access to and use of clean drinking water by people living in region Y.
  • Increased ability to maintain wells among people living in region Y.

 

3. Outputs:

Outputs are the specific, direct results of the project. Achieving the Outputs should contribute towards achieving the Outcome. There should be a clear and logical link from Output to Outcome.

Usually you would not want to have more than a maximum of 6 Outputs and Outputs should be within the control of the project and within its timeframe. Output statements generally include words such as delivered, produced, conducted.

For example – some possible outputs for the Outcomes above could read:

  • 3 public awareness campaigns completed
  • 50 health professionals trained
  • Increased maternal knowledge of ORT services in the 20 villages
  •  Increased access to ORT in the 20 villages
  • X Wells built in region Y.
  • Training on well maintenance developed and delivered to people living in region Y.

 

 

What if we find it difficult to tell the difference between an Outcome and an Output?

If you’re not sure whether you’re looking at an outcome or an output, try asking ‘So what?’ : for example you might say...

·         We built wells, or developed and deliver training (activities) – SO WHAT?

·         50 people participated in the training (data on the activities) – SO WHAT?

These are important, but not outcomes. So…what came out of the fact that people participated in the training?

·         From participating in the training, knowledge was built - Output

·         And so...there is improved use of ORT / use of clean water from better maintained wells is improved - OUTCOMES

 

4. Activities:

Activities are the things you do in the project, the tasks that need to be carried out, to deliver the direct outputs.  Activity statements generally include words such as prepare, design, construct, research, etc.

So for the examples above, the activities might be:

Launch public awareness campaign to educate mothers

Train health professionals in ORT

Build wells in region Y.

Develop and deliver training on well maintenance to people living in region Y.

 

5. Indicators:

Once you have a clear Weavers Triangle for your project you will need to decide what you are actually going to measure and monitor to assess your progress – these are called Indicators. You will need different indicators at each level – Aim, Outcome and Outputs. You must chose indicators that both directly measure whether the particular element is being achieved and also are realistic to collect / are readily available because someone is already collecting them.

Aim Indicators might be: national government or UN statistics showing % reduction in under-5s mortality, or regional government statistics showing % reduction in the prevalence of, and people being hospitalised with, water-borne diseases.

Outcome indicators are the things that help you to determine whether you have made the differences that you hope to make in the lives of the people that use your services (your outcomes). To develop outcome indicators you need to ask yourself what it would look like if you had achieved it.  For each outcome you need to develop at least two and no more than three indicators which you will measure.

Some outcomes are hard and can be measured in numbers. Some outcomes are soft and are more difficult to measure. With soft outcomes you need to set proxy indicators, which are things that might reasonably show that your outcome is happening: for example, parents’ attendance at school meetings could be used as an indicator of parental involvement with a school. Outcome indicators can also provide demonstrable evidence of a behavioral change, such as adoption or uptake, coverage or reach of Outputs.

Examples of Outcome Indicators might be: % reduction in under- 5s from the 20 villages being hospitalised with diarrhoea-related conditions, % increase in number of wells, % reduction in chemical contamination in well water, or zero wells out of use for 1 month or more.

Output indicators help you to measure the progress that you have made in delivering your activities or services.  When developing a project or a service you need to specify how many of each activity you hope to offer and to how many clients or users. These are also known as output targets.  Output indicators are generally measured in terms of immediate effects of goods and services delivered, such as pre/post-training scores on tests and simple skills assessments, and the creation of certain structures, documents, systems, etc.  At key points during the delivery of your project (for example: quarterly, 6 monthly or annually) you need to assess how many of each of your activities you have delivered and compare these against your output indicators.

Examples of Output indicators might be:  20 village training sessions, 30% improvement in public awareness survey results, or construction of 25 wells.

Ideally you should measure your indicators at the start of your project or when you start working with a new service user (your baseline) and then again at appropriate points in your project.  That way you can compare progress towards your planned outcomes over time from the start of your project.

The indicators that you select are the things that will help you to work out what information you need to collect. The next step is to decide exactly how you will measure the indicators and where the data will come from - e.g. from interviews, responses to a questionnaire, training records, newspaper reports, etc.  It can be a good idea to put your outcomes, indicators and methods into a grid.

It is crucial to get an organisational commitment to the overall plan and to setting aside time to follow it. Ideally you should measure your indicators at the start of your project (your baseline) and then again at appropriate points in your project.

Please have a look at Bond’s Impact Builder at http://www.bond.org.uk/pages/bond-effectiveness-programme.html which helps organisations consider useful Outcomes, Outputs and Indicators for a wide range of areas of work.

Acknowledgements:

Weaver’s Triangle is adapted from the Charities Evaluation Services Planning Triangle – see www.ces-vol.org.uk for more information. Jayne Weaver worked for CES and developed the Triangle for the BBC Children in Need Appeal. It is a simple logical framework to help ensure that a project’s activities are consistent with the results it wants to achieve. Research by the Kellogg Foundation in the USA has shown that working to a logical framework helps everyone involved in a project focus on what the project is trying to achieve. This in turn makes their work more effective.

Some of the ideas for this guidance above have been drawn from Evaluation Support Scotland’s guidance document on the Weavers Triangle: www.evaluationsupportscotland.org.uk - ESS are a good organisation to contact to secure advice and training on monitoring and evaluation and there are lots of useful guides and tools on their website.

How can using the Weavers Triangle to support strategy development and Business Planning help us?

The strategy development process is led by the Board, working with anyone within or outside the organisation who can contribute. A strategic plan is like a road map for the journey your organisation will undertake in the next 5 years. Business plans indicate the activities that need to occur for the strategy to be realised and form the basis of a fundraising strategy, which is important to most NGOs.

This process contributes to the development of an overall strategy, which in turn leads to the business planning process. There are people and organisations that can help you with these activities if you would like. Contact us for suggestions