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Outcome Mapping Practitioner Guide

8 enabling factors that can be used to determine if OM is appropriate for a specific situation or not.

The Report ‘Ten years of Outcome Mapping adaptations and support’ presents eight enabling factors that can be used to determine if OM is appropriate for a specific situation or not.

Author: Richard Smith

Published: Monday 8 September 2014

The Report ‘Ten years of Outcome Mapping adaptations and support’ (R. Smith, J. Mauremootoo & K. Rassmann, July 2012) presents enabling factors that can be used to determine if OM is appropriate for a specific situation or not.

Factors 1 to 3 are seen as ‘essential’ while factors 4 to 8 as ‘optional’. 

We present a summary of the eight enabling actors (see annex for the full report)

  1. Existence of complexity in the intervention environment: It is widely recognised that OM is particularly relevant and useful where results, or the processes by which they are achieved, are uncertain; for example in capacity development where success can look different from different perspectives and will ultimately depend on the behaviour of actors out of your control; or as in a network where objectives are agreed through member interactions and in reaction to opportunities. In situations in which results or means to achieving results are more predictable, users may benefit more from a lighter adaptation of the tools and concepts.


  1. Recognition of and willingness to act upon complexity in the project environment and an understanding of the rationale for OM application. Awareness of complexity is insufficient: implementers must be willing to move beyond the familiarity of linear cause-effect logic and understand the rationale for using OM, otherwise its use may be mechanistic and of limited value. Recognising and acting upon the difference between simple and complex situations is one aspect of the need to understand the rationale for the use of OM. In some situations, only a part of a project / organisation / intervention model may be affected by complexity and thus potentially benefit from OM.  


  1. Champions and the availability of appropriate technical support. Support for novel approaches such as OM takes time to build and without champions it is unlikely to be sustained. Use of OM requires motivated people to promote the approach that that have the confidence and competence to adapt OM as necessary. Many practitioners expressed the support from champions inside or outside the organisation who can support and motivate project teams to apply OM as vital to the successful use of OM.  


  1. Although funder support is beneficial, the lack of explicit support from a funder for the use of OM does not have to be an insurmountable barrier as OM can be implemented “by stealth” e.g. by applying OM at the operational level but reporting using LFA or using OM concepts without explicitly referring to OM or using OM terminology. 


  1. Support for and understanding of OM at the executive level is valuable for several reasons including the following: ensuring a commitment to secure the necessary resources for developing the situation-specific application of OM, ensuring that the system adopted is a good fit with institution-wide practices -and securing the space for learning and adaptive management. 


  1. The promotion of an organisational learning culture. The promotion of an organisational learning culture is an enabling factor for the implementation of any participatory learning-based PME approach. Practitioners who reported successful OM implementation were often accustomed to promoting a culture of reflection and learning. 


  1. An appreciation of the value of a results and learning-oriented PME system at multiple levels in the organisation. PME is given low priority in many organisations and in such cases PME systems are typically the responsibility of a restricted number of individuals. In such environments the focus is often on compliance and simple activity reporting rather than ownership, learning and a results-focus as promoted by OM and other participatory learning-oriented PME approaches. 


  1. Availability of sufficient resources for the implementation of OM. Practitioners have different experiences: some stated that considerable additional resources were needed – especially those that operate in a less supportive environment - to move from PME “business as usual” to establishing and maintaining an OM-based system. Others identified the need for additional resources for initial training and some mentoring but other requirements were already budgeted under existing activities while some stated that no additional resources were needed.

This nugget was applied in: Based on 128 OM case studies

Related Practitioner Guide sections:

Associated resources:

Latin America & Carribean Sub-Saharan Africa North Africa & Middle East South Asia South East Asia & Pacific Far-East Asia Eastern Europe & CIS (ex USSR) Western Europe North America & Canada Australasia