Guidelines and Framework for Designing Basic Logic Model

© Copyright Carter McNamara, MBA, PhD, Authenticity Consulting, LLC.
Adapted from the Field Guide to Nonprofit Program Design, Marketing and Evaluation.

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Description

The following framework can be filled in by readers to design a logic model (or diagram) for their organization and for each of its programs or products. Guidelines and examples are provided to help the reader.

Purpose of a Logic Model

A logic model is a top-level depiction the flow of materials and processes to produce the results desired by the organization. The model can be very useful to organize planning and analysis when designing the organization and its products/programs or when designing evaluations of products/programs. It can also be useful for describing the organization.

What to Include and What Not to Include

Logic models can be in regard to whatever application in which the designer chooses to use them. However, when using logic models to analyze or describe organizations or departments, it's often best to use logic models to depict major, recurring items in the organization or departments -- rather than one-time items. For example, you might not choose to do a logic model for the one-time, initial activities to build an organization (constructing the building, registering with state and federal authorities, etc.). However, you might benefit more from using logic models to analyze and describe the major, recurring activities that occur in the organization or department (once they're built) to continue to produce the results desired for customers.

Size and Level of Detail

The logic model should be of a size that readers can easily study the model without extensive reference and cross-comparisons between pages. Ideally, the logic model is one or at most two pages long. The level of detail should be sufficient for the reader to grasp the major items that go into an organization, what occurs to those inputs, the various outputs that results and the overall benefits/impacts (or outcomes) that occur and to which groups of people.

Note the content of program logic models is often more specific than models for organizations. This level of specificity is often quite useful for planners.

Definitions of Basic Terms

Logic models typically depict the inputs, processes, outputs and outcomes associated with an organization and its processes or products. Don't be concerned about your grasping the "correct" definition of each of the following terms. It's more important to have some sense of what they mean -- and even more important to be consistent in your use of the terms.

Inputs

These are materials that the organization or department takes in and then processes to produce the results desired by the organization. Types of inputs are people, money, equipment, facilities, supplies, people's ideas, people's time, etc. Inputs can also be major forces that influence the organization or products. For example, the inputs to a product that is bought by trainer to teach learners, for example, training materials, teachers, classrooms, funding, paper and pencils, etc. Various laws and regulations effect how the product may be applied, for example, safety regulations, Equal Opportunity Employment guidelines, etc. Inputs are often associated with a cost to obtain and use the item -- budgets are listings of inputs and the costs to obtain and/or use them.

Processes (or Activities or Strategies or Methods)

Processes are used by the organization or program to manipulate and arrange items to produce the results desired by the organization. Processes can range from putting a piece of paper on a desk to manufacturing a space shuttle. However, logic models are usually only concerned with the major recurring processes associated with producing the results desired by the organization. For example, the major processes used by an organization to produce a product for trainers might include recruitment of learners, pretesting of learners, training, post-testing and certification.

Outputs

Outputs are usually the tangible results of the major processes in the organization. They are usually accounted for by their number, for example, the number of products made by the organization. Outputs are frequently misunderstood to indicate success of an organization or product. However, if the outputs aren't directly associated with achieving the benefits desired for customers, then the outputs are poor indicators of the success of the organization and its products.

Outcomes

Some organizations may choose to analyze their organizationals results in terms of outcomes, which are (hopefully positive) impacts on customers whom the organization wanted to benefit with its products. Outcomes are usually specified in terms of:
a) learning, including enhancements to knowledge, understanding/perceptions/attitudes, and behaviors
b) skills (behaviors to accomplish results, or capabilities)
c) conditions (increased profits for customers, etc.)

It's often to specify outcomes in terms of short-term, intermediate and long-term.



Basic Example of a Logic Model

The following example is intended to further portray the nature of inputs, processes, outputs and outcomes.

The logic model is for an organization called the Self-Directed Learning Center (SDLC).

Logic models for programs are often more detailed.

inputs

processes

outputs

short-term outcome(s)

intermediate outcomes

long-term outcomes

- Free articles and other publications on the Web

- Collaborators

- Free Management Library

- Funders

- Self-directed learners·

- Volunteers

- Computers

- Web

- Supplies

- Provide peer-assistance models in which learners support each other

- Provide free, online training program: Basics of Self-Directed Learning

- Provide free, online training program: Basic Life Skills

- Provide free, online training program: Passing your GED Exam

- 30 groups that used peer models

- 100 completed training programs

- 900 learners who finished Basics of Self-Directed Learning

- 900 learners who finished Basic Life Skills

- 900 learners who passed their GED to gain high-school diploma

- high school diploma for graduates

- improved attitude toward self and society for graduates

- improved family life for family of graduates

- full-time employment for learners (in job that required high-school education)

- increased reliability and improved judgment of learners

- enhanced publicity and public relations for SDLC

- independent living for learner (by using salary to rent apartment)

- strong basic life skills for learner

- improved love life for learner who's now in a relationship

- increased likelihood and interest for learner to attend college


Logic Model for

Organization (Name) _______________________________________________________

Or Product (Name) ________________________________________________________

inputs

processes

outputs

short-term outcomes

intermediate outcomes

long-term outcomes

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Growing Your Organization

The following books are recommended because of their highly practical nature and often because they include a wide range of information about this Library topic. To get more information about each book, just click on the image of the book. Also, a "bubble" of information might be displayed. You can click on the title of the book in that bubble to get more information, too.

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