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Outcome Mapping Practitioner Guide

Boundary Partners

Sorting out types of partners in Outcome Mapping's Step 3 from the perspective of a particular actor or stakeholder can be an illuminating process for the intervention team.  Differentiating stakeholders according to their roles and relationships in the intervention clarifies how the various actors and their working relationship are linked to the intended outcomes. And it allows the intervention to locate itself within the confluence of working relationships, clarifying which stakeh... Read more ▼


How can I use the concept of Boundary Partners in my project or programme?

When it comes to selecting and working with Boundary Partners it is important to stay flexible, strategic and open to emergence.  Sometimes we become aware of important potential Boundary Partners late in the game.  There may be actors who are not receptive to participating, who operate beyond the intervention's sphere of influence.  In some cases certain stakeholders may be actively hostile to, ignorant of, or unknowingly blocking the intervention's intentions.  Or maybe the intervention does not have the profile, knowledge or credibility to effectively engage with some stakeholders. In these kinds of situations, think of problematic or unreachable stakeholders simply as future boundary partners who don't know it yet.  You will bring them on board once you have figured out how and have laid the necessary groundwork. 

Nuggets related to this section:

  1. Conceptually visualizing boundary partners: size, distance, position, relationships by Jeph Mathias
  2. Using Outcome Mapping to improve education in Indonesia by Nia Kurnianingtyas

How are boundary partners identified?

There are many ways to identify and understand who all of the actors in your system are, and which ones are or should be your Boundary Partners.  Any of the typical stakeholder analysis tools will serve this purpose; with the added layer of asking the Boundary Partner questions that are outlined in the original OM manual.

Most important to note, is that often, especially in complex systems, it make require periodic review of your stakeholders and Boundary Partners.  New Boundary Partners may appear, old ones might not be as relevant.

Nuggets related to this section:

  1. Characterising Boundary Partners by Julius Nyangaga
  2. Identifying and Connecting Stakeholders to your project by Terry Smutylo
  3. Alignment, Interest, Influence Matrix by Simon Hearn

How do I distinguish boundary partners from strategic partners?

Boundary Partners are those individuals or groups that contribute to and are part of your vision, and which the project or program can communicate with and affect change in.  Strategic partners are those individuals or groups that work with you, or the work is a complement to yours, as the implementing organization to affect change in Boundary Partners.

Nuggets related to this section:

  1. An interconnected network of stakeholders replacing the project implementation team by Corinne Sprecher

How do we deal with boundary partners of boundary partners?

Part of the behavioural change we want to see with Boundary Partners is change in relationships and interactions. Some of these relationships and interactions will be with their Boundary Partners, so identifying Boundary Partners of Boundary Partners can help define what relationships need to shift and how these fit into a complex web of relationships. Identifying BPs of BPs can also provide an additional layer of potential monitoring data.

Nuggets related to this section:

  1. Working with nested OM frameworks by Jan Van Ongevalle

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