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Stories of Change

This paper provides a brief introduction to stories of change as a tool for communicating progress and the value of a given project in an interesting and accessible way. It has been developed as part of the Global Open Knowledge Hub (GOKH) however the lessons can be translated to a wide range of programmes.

Stories of change are used to explore and demonstrate change that has occurred as a result of a project or programme. They are often used in development interventions to supplement quantitative indicators of success and communicate changes in knowledge, behaviours, attitudes and practice that cannot easily be captured in quantitative metrics. They can be combined with more simplistic quantitative indicators to build up a picture of progress towards the overall projects goals.

Particularly in complex or innovative programmes, stories of change can bring the project to life for external audiences as they may be more able to identify with the results of the programme through the use of real life examples. Stories of change will not usually attempt to illustrate the overall results of the intervention but often one well-chosen example of success can lead to a wider understanding of the projects overall results or the potential future results. It therefore equips you with something accessible to convey to others the value of the programme and provides funders with a tool by which to communicate to a wider audience the value of the work they are funding.

Stories of change should also generate substantial learning opportunities for both internal and external stakeholders alike. The process of developing the story of change requires reflection and investigation into the factors that have enabled and constrained the change to occur. The knowledge gained through this process is then captured and stored in the story, strengthening the institutional memory of your organisation. Although many stories of change focus on positive results, they can also be used as a powerful tool to investigate circumstances when results were not achieved. By identifying the constraining factors at play, important lessons can be learnt about the assumptions underlying the intervention.

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