Thursday, 31 March 2016

More basic terminology

Here's another set of concepts that seem to cause a great deal of confusion. They are much used in results-oriented planning (often called results-based management or RBM). I like to explain them as follows:

Output = The direct result of an activity - something that is under your/ your project's control. For instance, I brush and floss my teeth several times a day, and the output is a clean set of teeth.

Outcome = Something that your activity is designed to help produce - but it takes some more factors for that kind of result to come about. For instance, I clean my teeth to avoid getting caries, so healthy teeth are my desired outcome. But my chances to have good teeth are much enhanced if I avoid eating sweets or very acid food, if I have healthy gums, if I have the right kind of genes, and so on. Even people with clean teeth get caries.

Impact = A long-lasting result that can be directly traced to an intervention. For example, if my dentist extracts a tooth, the impact is a gap in my mouth. 

2 comments:

Inga said...

Dear Michaela,

I wanted to share this video with you. It´s called the impact blues.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5f4rNEsyEYY

It let someone think if the term impact should really be used in development cooperation as those results are not based (only) on your activities.
Regards
Inga
GIZ Namibia

Michaela said...

Hi Inga,
Thank you for sharing this classic (I believe you might even find it in one of my older posts back in the late 2000's)! I totally agree with you - the term 'impact' is much misused in our profession.
Best, Michaela