Theory of Change

Collectively humanity has the knowledge to minimize the disruption of many of the impactful experiences we can have. Through hearing about transformations others have been through and the strategies that made things easier for them, your experiences can hopefully be made easier. Who better to offer insights than people who have some idea of what you’re going through? It’s like having access to a manual to human experience where you know solutions have been personally road tested by other people.

Through sharing stories and considering the economic, political and social forces that impact them we can start to better see how different sections of life and society are connected. Every aspect of life, whether we realize it or not, is subject to wider forces that are a result of decisions that have been made around us. From the rules that shape our norms, to the traditions informing our behaviour, to what we perceive as feasible in our lives, all of them are subject to change. Stories help us make sense of the world, whilst also enabling us to look at events and life from new angles.

After you have spent some time on COIN reading people’s stories, there are a few things that would be worth reflecting on;

  • Consider what external or structural forces impact how you or others are affected by an issue or event of interest to you
  • Think about what laws and changes to culture or behaviour could positively impact the issue or event
  • Contemplate the reasons why change has not been implemented

If we sit back, other people, corporations or governments may direct change in ways that are to their benefit rather than for the good of wider society. On your own there’s a limit to how much you can achieve, with supportive people on your side, your chances of achieving change are dramatically improved.

  • Consider the implications of more people being concerned about the issue or event you are passionate about
  • If there are few public conversations about your type of issue or event, consider the potential impact of such conversations

There may be organisations, government agencies or local groups already concerned with the issues related to your area of focus; you might consider doing some research to find out who they are. Rather than reinventing the wheel, look at the kind of work they are doing and find out how they can support you in raising awareness and inspiring others to take action to improve the experiences of people going through similar experiences. Are there government departments or officials who can fund initiatives or lobby for changes in legislation? Pre-existing groups and organisations may be actively working to achieve change and you might want to get involved with their efforts. If there are no suitable groups locally, consider starting one and decide what collective action for change to work towards. There are some suggestions about starting groups and launching campaigns in the Taking Action section of COIN, as well as information on how change has traditionally happened.

Whatever issues and events we each have knowledge about, let’s do our bit to give others the benefit of our experiences. Even if all you do is share your story or recommend strategies, articles, books or organisations that have been helpful for you, that’s a step towards making sure things are easier for the next person who finds themselves in a similar situation. The more we all share our knowledge, the more likely it is that when we’re facing our obstacle, someone will have already shared their insights. Some people may be reluctant to share their personal stories with strangers, however for the sake of making someone’s life less difficult or tricky, it is worth seriously considering how your story can contribute towards improving lives.