Till Time (and Poor Planning) Do Us Part: Programs as Dynamic Systems—Incorporating Planning of Sustainability into Theories of Change

  • Sanjeev Sridharan Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
  • April Nakaima Evaluation Centre for Complex Health Interventions
Keywords: dynamic change, evaluative thinking, planning, sustainability, theory of change

Abstract

This article describes the need for, and challenge of, representing the sustainability of a program as a dynamic process. Part of what enhances the complexity of programs is the challenge of dynamic complexity—the complexity of the program evolves over time through the interaction of actors and their environment. The problem is not just one of representation but also of planning—specifically planning for sustain-ability. We argue that an essential part of any accountability regime is planning for sustainability. Using the concept of programs as dynamic process, we argue that planning for sustainability needs to be a critical aspect of the impact chains of all theories of change. Both the representation and testing aspects of such a formulation are discussed.

Author Biographies

Sanjeev Sridharan, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
The Evaluation Centre for Complex Health Interventions, St. Michael's Hospital; and the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto
April Nakaima, Evaluation Centre for Complex Health Interventions
The Evaluation Centre for Complex Health Interventions, St. Michael's Hospital
Published
2019-03-01
Section
Theme Segment Next Generation Program Theory