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Many outcomes specialists and evaluators use Hallie Preskill and Darlene Russ-Eft's [1] Chocolate Chip Cookie Exercise when they're running evaluation or outcomes workshops. It's a great exercise because at the end you can reward participants with chocolate chip cookies when they do well!

The same exercise can be used for teaching a range of topics in evaluation and outcomes, including how to draw theories of change, logic models, intervention logics, results chains and outcomes models. We've drawn a simple DoView® Best Practice Templates™ which you can use with any group when you're teaching them about outcomes and evaluation topics.

This is just a basic DoView® outcomes model, we use it in a variety of ways in our strategy, outcomes and evaluation training and I hope to post an article in the future with more detail on how it can be used. In the meantime, we thought that we would put up the template as a very simple example of an outcomes model/theory of change/logic model so anyone using DoView® can start using it and so that I can illustrate a couple of points about drawing outcomes models.

Below is the overview page of the template. It's built using the standard DoView® Outcomes modeling rules. This is just the top overview page, check out the clickable webpage version of the model. A PDF of the template is available as is the DoView® file which created it (download a trial of DoView® software and then edit and play around with the file). undertaken with the client.

chocolate-chip-cookied-overview

A drill-down page

Below is a drill-down page within the template which provides detail which lies underneath the Well-cooked chocolate chip cookies box. All of the other boxes in the overview can be drilled-down in the same manner in the webpage or DoView® software version here.


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Including boxes that you cannot control or influence

The first point I'd like to make about outcomes model when looking at this model relates to the rules for drawing outcomes models. The DoView® outcomes modeling rules allow the inclusion of boxes that may not be controllable or even influenceable by a program but which are essential to the satisfactory achievement of outcomes. On the drill-down page below regarding Satisfactory Chocolate Chip Cookie eating experience there is a box - Appropriate company to eat with.

Depending on the nature of the Chocolate Chip Cookie Cooking program, it may be that this particular box is outside of the control, or even the influence, of the program. The program may only be responsible for cooking the cookies. However, the philosophy behind the DoView® approach when you're trying to build a comprehensive outcomes model [2], is that it should include everything that is necessary to achieve final outcomes. Otherwise it is just a partial program-centric model rather than a full world-centric model focused on what is needed to achieve outcomes in the outside world.


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This approach ensures that the visual outcomes model is a tool which encourages those using it to have a fully outcomes-focused approach rather than to just limit their attention to only what their program is doing. Of course at the end of the day you also need to be crystal clear about direct accountabilities. This is dealt with in the DoView® approach by including indicators on the model and marking-up which are direct program accountabilities. There is an example available on this point. I will also talk about this in a later article on how you can use the Cookie Cooking exercise in workshops to illustrate a range of points about strategy, outcomes and planning.

Labeling boxes inputs, activities, outputs, outcomes etc.

Another thing to note is that on the Well cooked chocolate chip cookies page above, the boxes on the left could be described as 'inputs' if you were building an outcomes model using the traditional columns approach. You can easily build a traditional column-type model in DoView® software, but there are also advantages in building free-form models such as we have done in this template. I will discuss the pros and cons of the different approaches in more detail at a later stage but just wanted to bring to your attention the way this template model has been formatted. 

Pictures in boxes

Lastly, DoView® software lets you put pictures into the boxes shown in strategy templates and outcomes models. It does take a bit more time to locate pictures for your models. However, the reason this feature was initially included in DoView® software was that people working with low literacy communities and mixed language groups in international development wanted to use it. Having pictures in the boxes in the model meant that they could show people a visual outcome model and discuss it with the audience even when the audience could not read the text in the boxes. However, in the DoView® Best Practice Templates™ we normally release, we do not usually use pictures. For instance, this one on best practice for a mental health service.

Poster version

The Chocolate Chip Cookie Template DoView model has been drawn in the form of an overview page and a series of drill-down pages. This approach makes the model much more accessible and easy to work with than an approach which attempts to draw the model on one single big page. It also means that the model can be represented across different platforms: as a DoView electronic model, as a webpage model, and as a letter-size printed model. However, the different drill-down pages in the model can be combined onto a poster version so that readers can get an overview of the model. Here is the poster version below. 


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Initial points on how to use this template in a workshop

I will provide more detail in a later article on how to use this template in workshops, however  in the meantime one way you could use it would be to get participants to download a trial copy of DoView® and then draw their own outcomes model using the DoView® outcomes model rules.

They could then open the DoView® file of this template. They could modify it if the model they built included boxes not in the template and then use the outcomes model for other purposes as part of the workshop. For example, putting on indicators, evaluation questions, traffic-lighting areas for program improvement etc.

This means that your workshop participants would get to play around with drawing outcomes models plus they would have a go at using a piece of software for building theories of change/logic models/intervention logics/results chains.  DoView® is very easy to use and most people in a workshop immediately pick up how to use it within minutes.

Any initial comments

Do you have any comments on the initial points I've raised above: whether you normally include boxes that are not controllable or influenceable by a program within a model; whether you like outcomes models that use the traditional input, outputs etc columns; and whether you think including pictures with boxes adds value? You might also might like to critique the content of the template or have comments on how you might be able to use it in a workshop. Put any comments you have up on the Linkedin Pulse version of this article.

[1] Preskill, H. & D Russ-Eft (2005) Building Evaluation Capacity. Sage Publications.

[2] DoView software can be used to model any time of theory of change/outcomes model/intervention logic/logic model/strategy map/result chain/logframe, including those that are in the traditional colum format used in logic models.


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* Full disclosure: Dr Paul Duignan is involved in the development of DoView software.

Dr Paul Duignan

B423L