A news service focusing on developments in monitoring and evaluation methods
relevant to development projects and programmes with social development objectives.
MandE NEWS .
Edited by Rick Davies, Cambridge, UK. | Email the Editor | Last Edited: 9th April 2008 | Home Page

PLEASE NOTE: The MandE NEWS website has recently undergone a major reconstruction. The new (>May 2008) version of this page is now located  here. The page below will no longer be updated.

Working with the Logical Framework (under duress or by desire)

This new (but only partly completed) page will try to provide:

Caveat: There are many other tools that are often used in association with the Logical Framework, such as Problem Trees, SWOT analysis etc. I wont be covering these here

...and still retain a sense of humour

There is a piece of office graffiti which says: "The strongest human desire is not to make war, not to make love, but to alter other people's copy"  

[the word "alter" has then been crossed out and replaced with the word "develop", etc, etc...]

The author clearly must have had experience of working with other people's Logical Frameworks (or vice versa!)
From the IFAD webpage on the Logical Framework
from the IFAD webpage on the Logical Framework
Search the Archives (630+ items) and www.mande.co.uk/docs/ directory (190+ items) Google Custom Search
Try this Swiki search engine that includes social bookmarking (where your responses help others find what they need) 

Explanations of the Logical Framework

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  • Annotated Example of a Project Logframe Matrix, by IFAD (actually Irene Guijt and Jim Woodhil, consultants to) These two web pages "provides an example of how to develop and improve the logframe matrix for an IFAD-supported project by giving a "before revision" and "after revision" comparison. The "before" logframe matrix is shown with comments on the problems and how these could be overcome. The "after" logframe matrix shows the partial reworking of the original logframe matrix. The example is based on several IFAD-supported projects and so represents a fictitious project."  This Annex is a part of "A Guide for M&E" whose main text also includes one section on "Linking Project Design, Annual Planning and M&E" which has sub-sections specifically on the Logical Framework..

  • The Logical Framework: Making it Results-Oriented, produced by CIDA

  • Tools for Development A handbook for those engaged in development activity Performance and Effectiveness Department Department for International Development September 2002. See section 5 Logical Frameworks, 5.1 Introduction, 5.2 What is a logframe and how does it help?, 5.3 Advantages, 5.4 Limitations, 5.5 How to develop a logframe, Box 1: Key points to completing the logframe, Box 2: The If / And / Then logic that underlies the logframe approach, 5.6 Types of Indicators, Box 3: The logframe matrix, Box 4: Indicators, 5.7 Living logframes, Box 5: Logframe programme planning for primary education, Box 6: Learning logframe principles, Box 7: Checklist for Objectives column of the logframe, Box 8: Checklist for Risks and Assumptions, Box 9: Checklist for Indicators and Means of Verification, Box 10: The Logical Framework: Project Design, Box 11: The Logical Framework: Project Indicators, Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting" (Posted 17/06/05)

  • Coleman, G. 1987. Logical Framework Approach to the Monitoring and Evaluation of Agricultural and Rural Development Projects. Project Appraisal 2(4): 251-259. A classic text. Can any one find an online copy?

Wider discussions of Logic Models

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  • Program logic - an introduction, provided by Audience Dialogue  (15/06/07)

  • Enhancing Program Performance with Logic Models This course introduces a holistic approach to planning and evaluating education and outreach programs. Module 1 helps program practitioners use and apply logic models. Module 2 applies logic modeling to a national effort to evaluate community nutrition education.  Provided by the  University of Wisconsin (15/06/07)

  • W K Kellogg Foundation Logic Model Development Guide. Using Logic Models to Bring Together Planning, Evaluation, and Action. Updated (original was published in 1998) "The program logic model is defined as a picture of how your organization does its work – the theory and assumptions underlying the program.A program logic model links outcomes (both short- and long-term) with program activities/processes and the theoretical assumptions/principles of the program."
  • Network Perspectives In The Evaluation Of Development Interventions: More Than A Metaphor. [Full text also at www.mande.co.uk/docs/nape.doc] Rick Davies, for the EDAIS Conference November 24-25, 2003 New Directions in Impact Assessment for Development: Methods and Practice. "In this paper I argue the case for the use of a network perspective in representing and evaluating aid interventions. How we represent the intentions of aid activities has implications for how their progress and impact can be assessed. Because our representations are by necessary selective simplifications of reality they will emphasise some aspects of change and discourage attention to others. The benchmark alternative here is by default the Logical Framework, the single most commonly used device for representing what an aid project or programme is trying to do. Five main arguments are put forward in favour of a network perspective as the better alternative, along with some examples of their use. Firstly, social network analysis is about social relationships, and that is what much of development aid is about. Not abstract and disembodied processes of change. Secondly, there is wide range of methods for measuring and visualising network structures. These provide a similarly wide range of methods of describing expected outcomes of interventions in network terms. Thirdly, there is also a wide range of theories about social and other networks. They can stimulate thinking about the likely effects of development interventions. Fourthly, network representations are very scalable, from very local developments to the very global, and they can include both formal and informal structures. They are relevant to recent developments in the delivery of development aid. Fifthly, network models of change can incorporate mutual and circular processes of influence, as well as simple linear processes of change. This enables them to represent systems of relationships exhibiting varying degrees of order, complexity and chaos. Following this argument I outline some work-in-progress, including ways in which the conference participants may themselves get involved. Finally I link this paper into its own wider web of intellectual influences and history. " (Posted here 21/05/05)

Critiques of the Logical Framework

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  • THE USE AND ABUSE OF THE LOGICAL FRAMEWORK APPROACH A Review of International Development NGOs’ Experiences. A report for Sida. November 2005. Oliver Bakewell and Anne Garbutt, of INTRAC.  "In this review, we have attempted to take stock of the current views of international development NGOs on the LFA and the ways in which they use it. We start in the next section by considering the different meanings and connotations of the term logical framework approach as it is used by different actors. In Section 3 we look at how LFAs are used by INGOs in both planning and project management. The next section reviews some of the debates and critiques around the LFA arising both from practice and the literature. In response to these challenges, different organisations have adapted the LFA and these variations on the LFA theme are outlined in Section 5. We conclude the paper by summarising the findings and reflecting on ways forward. ...This review has been commissioned by Sida as part of a larger project which aims to establish new guidelines for measuring results and impact and reporting procedures for Swedish development NGOs receiving support from Sida. " (Posted 05/02/06)
  • " Logical frameworks, Aristotle and soft systems: a note on the origins, values and uses of logical frameworks, in reply to Gasper Simon Bell", Open University, UK . Correspondence to Simon Bell, Southern Cottage, Green Lane, Wicklewood, Norfolk NR18 9ET, UK. Is there an online copy?
  • Evaluating the “logical framework approach” - towards learning-oriented development evaluation’, Des Gasper, Public Administration and Development, 20(1), 2000, pp. 17-28. Email gasper@iss.nl Abstract: "Abstract The logical framework approach has spread enormously, including increasingly to stages of review and evaluation. Yet it has had little systematic evaluation itself. Survey of available materials indicates several recurrent failings, some less easily countered than others. In particular: focus on achievement of intended effects by intended routes makes logframes a very limiting tool in evaluation; an assumption of consensual project objectives often becomes problematic in public and inter-organizational projects; and automatic choice of an audit form of accountability as the priority in evaluations can be at the expense of evaluation as learning. "

Alternative versions of the Logical Framework

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  • The Social Framework: Posting on the Rick on the Road Blog outlining an actor-oriented alternative to the Logical Framework (posted 09/04/08)
  • Logical Framework Approach - with an appreciative approach. April 2006 SIDA Civil Society Centre. "As a part of its effort to realise the intentions of Sweden’s Policy on Global Development, Sida Civil Society Center (SCSC) initiated a development project in 2005 together with PMU Interlife (the Swedish Pentecostal Mission’s development cooperation agency) and consultant Greger Hjelm of Rörelse & Utveckling. The goal was to create a working model which combines the goal hierarchy and systematics from the Logical Framework Approach (LFA)1 with the approach used in the Appreciative Inquiry tool (AI). AI is both a working method and an approach. In analysing strengths and resources, motivation and driving forces, the focus is placed on the things which are working well, and on finding positive action alternatives for resolving a situation. LFA, which is an established planning model in the field of international development, is found by many to be an overly problem-oriented model. Using this approach, one proceeds based on a situation in which something is lacking, formulates the current situation as a “problem
    tree”, and thus risks failing to perceive resources which are actually present, and a failure to base one’s support efforts on those resources. Working in close cooperation, we have now formulated a new working method for planning using LFA, one which is built on appreciative inquiry and an appreciative approach. The model was tested by PMU
    Interlife’s programme offi cers and their cooperating partners in Niger, Nicaragua and Tanzania during the autumn of 2005. Their experiences have been encouraging, and it is our hope that more Swedish organisations and their cooperating partners will try our model and working method.(Posted 01/07/06)

  • No more log frames!! People-Focused Program Logic Two day workshop Monday 19th and Tuesday 20th of September 2005, in Melbourne, Australia. "Purpose of the workshop: • To understand what ‘people-focused’ program logic is and how to use it • To build a people-focused program logic for their own project Who should attend? People with monitoring and evaluation interests who are working on projects with capacity building components. Course description: In this workshop, participants will build their own ‘people-focused’ logic model. To do this they will analyse the key beneficiaries of their project, build their program logic model around this analysis, and consider assumptions made in the logic. The program logic will be built around a generic theory of how capacity building works, that can be modified to include elements of advocacy and working with or through partners. Participants will also learn how this logic can be used to form the spine of their monitoring, evaluation and improvement framework. As participants will be invited to develop their own program logic model, they are encouraged to bring along others from the same project team. Examples of frameworks, and a workbook will be provided to participants" For additional information: Jo Leddy of Clear Horizon Phone: 03 9783 3662 E-mail: Jo@clearhorizon.com.au Website: www.clearhorizon.com.au See rest of the flyer for more information...(Posted 21/06/05)

  • Intertwining Participation, Rights Based Approach and Log-Frame: A way forward in Monitoring and Evaluation for Rights Based Work. Partha Hefaz Shaikh Initial Draft - Circulated for discussion. "Programme implementation through Rights Based Approach (RBA) in ActionAid Bangladesh started in 2000 and it took us quite a while to understand what it meant to implement programmes in a RBA environment. Side by side we were also grappling with issues of monitoring and evaluation of programmes implemented through a rights based approach. In order to develop a more meaningful framework that has all the elements of participation, RBA and log-frame we developed what we call “Planning and Implementation Framework Analysis (PIFA)”. " (Posted 20/05/05)

  • Build Reach into Your Logic Model.  Steve Montague February 1998 "Analysts have frequently noted the importance of constructing logic models (a.k.a. logic charts, causal models, logical frameworks, and most recently performance frameworks - among other names) to explain the causal theory of a program or initiative before attempting to monitor, measure, or assess performance. ...A key limitation to the logic models of the 1980s, as well as many of those in current use, has been their tendency to focus predominantly on causal chains without reference to who and where the action was taking place. "

The Editor's Concerns

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Long, complex, unreadable sentences, in the narrative column of the Logical Framework
  • Often the result of compromises between many different parties who have been negotiating the contents of the Logical Framework. Net result: an unreadable document
  • Sometimes the result of people not knowing that the whole story does not need to be told in one sentence. The row below should say what happens before (the cause) and the row above should say what happens next (the effects)
  • Sometimes the result of people forgetting there is a column for indicators next door, where they can provide lots of interesting detail about what is expected to happen at this stage

Narrative statements without people in them. E.g "Rice productivity increased"
  • Another reasons some many Logical Frameworks are so unreadable, and so boring when they are readable, is that somehow their authors have managed to leave out people. Instead we have lots of abstract and disembodied processes. And then we wonder why some people have difficulty understanding Logical Frameworks

Means of verification that refer to reports and surveys, but not who is responsible for generating and / or providing this information
  • This problem is similar to the above, reflecting a continuing aversion to making references to real people in Logical Frameworks.
  • One consequence is lack of clear ownership and responsibility for M&E of the changes being described at that level of the Logical Framework

Insistence on there being only one Purpose level statement in a Logical Framework
  • I have recent experience of colleagues insisting on this. For reasons I have not yet established, beyond the "it is not allowed" variety. Insisting on one Purpose and One Goal really is pushing a very linear model of reality. It does not even allow for any parallel but convergent events, such as those usually come through problem tree analyses that sometimes precede the design of a Logical framework

Overly simple indicators used to describe complex developments
Lists of indicators in no apparent order
  • "A (unsorted) list is not a strategy" A sorted list can convey relative importance (most important indicator at the top), or an sequence (starting from the bottom), or multiple alternative routes to the objective in the narrative column.

Broad generalisations at the Goal level
  • Sometimes arising from confusion of a temporal hierarchy (A leads to B which leads to C which leads to D) and a nested hierarchy (A is part of B which is part of C which is part of D). The Logical Framework is supposed to be a temporal hierarchy, that tells a story. Not a pile of broader and broader statements about the same thing

Confusion over the meaning of different levels in a Logical Framework. Between Activities and Outputs, Outputs and Purpose level outcomes, and outcomes at the Purpose and Goal level.
  • Often cause by leaving people out of the picture, as above.
  • A workable rule of thumb, for seperating levels of the Logical Framework
    • Activities are things that "the project" can control. The boundary of a project being defined by the reach of its contracts (with staff, consultants, suppliers and sub-contractors)
    • Outputs are the activities of the project (if services), or their results (if goods), that people and organisations outside the project can use e.g workshops, publications, trainings, etc. Ask here: What is available to who, and in what form?
    • Purpose level changes (outcomes), are changes in those people or organisations who have used those goods or services. Normally the project would hope to influence these (and learn about how it can have influence) but it would not be expected to control events at this level
    • Goal level changes (outcomes), are longer term changes in those same people or organisations, or others they have subsequently interacted with.

Long lists of assumptions
  • Apparently designed to cover people's backsides
  • Including many events that the project should be able to influence
    • ...which as such should be listed as one of the outputs or outcomes. I.e. brought into the central narrative of the Logical Framework

Things the Logical Framework cant do very well, even in the best of hands
  • Represent multiple parallel processes, as distinct from a single process
    • E.g. What people are doing at multiple project locations, within a single national project
      • Representing their interactions is even more of a challenge
  • Represent the interactions between multiple events at the same level of a Logical framework.
    • E.g. How different project outputs (manuals, training events, newsletters, websites, etc) feed into each other
    • Or, how different health outcomes feed into each other, before finally contributing to Goal level changes e.g. reduced mortality
  • Represent the interactions between multiple outputs and the many users of those outputs
    • E.g., the range of communications products used by a range of clients of a project . Many people will use multiple products, but their usage patterns will vary. Many products will be used by multiple users, but their user groups will vary.

All these processes can however be represented by network models. See the new page on developing network models of development projects.

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