Over the coming year I hope to spend a little time on this blog showcasing some of the interesting work created by members of my Information Design Academy.
In today’s post we’ll look at something created by Celestyna Galicki that we started calling a Shadow Logic Model. Most of the words (and the Shadow Logic Model design) are Celestyna’s. I only added a few quick observations (and the cartoons).
Who is Celestyna Galicki?
Celestyna is an evaluator currently working in an evaluation capacity building role in local government in New Zealand. You can learn more by visiting Celestyna’s LinkedIn profile.
So just what is a Shadow Logic Model? [Celestyna]
This term describes a situation when the programme’s official logic model does not work (outputs do not lead to outcomes) but there is an unofficial logic model that works and produces outcomes that are important and valuable for someone. “Someone” can be the intended beneficiaries of the official logic model, the funder of the programme, people implementing the programme, the local community etc.
We are not talking about corruption here – money is spent as intended and all funded activities take place. If a shadow logic model is in place, most people involved in the program, and sometimes also the funder, know about it – they want to continue the programme because they find the benefits of the shadow logic model important enough. However, funding structures, political considerations, public opinion and other factors require them to pretend that they implement the official logic model if they want to continue.
How do you discover a shadow logic model? [Celestyna]
There is palpable awkwardness at first when workshopping logic models and evaluation with teams that have a shadow logic model. Discovering the shadow logic model is one of the skills academia did not teach me and I had to develop it with practice.
The way I usually approach this as an evaluator is to acknowledge the “unintended positive outcomes” and their value and evidence alongside the intended outcomes.
One of Celestyna’s Shadow Logic Models [Celestyna]
A few quick observations from Chris
I love this concept and Celestyna’s design. Let’s take a second to break down the design.
- First off there is a simple official logic model. This logic model is then mirrored with an unofficial logic model.
- A volunteer story illustrated with a simple cartoon figure humanizes the program and really sets the model within the appropriate context. The shadow logic model could have existed without this piece but I don’t think it would be nearly as compelling.
- At the bottom there is a single sentence takeaway which does a good job of ending the design with a quick “so what?”
What value exists in finding and constructing shadow logic models? [Celestyna]
The outcomes of official and shadow logic models provide important insights into what is and is not considered valuable by those who make decisions.
Common shadow outcomes include:
- social contact and friendship for those lonely and isolated (as in the example in the illustration)
- relationship building / relationship repair between the community and authorities or funders, signalling that the authorities care about something and take it seriously
- outcomes valued by indigenous or migrant communities that do not fit into Western frameworks, e.g. mana enhancement
- the benefits of basic services such as free transport or free food provided as part of the programme
- improving the reputation of a place/neighbourhood etc.
So what do you think? Could you see yourself creating something like this for your own program?
Let us know in the comments 🙂
Joelle Greene says
This is really thought provoking. I’m wondering why not just expand the “official” logic model to also include unintended consequences of the work? I feel like taxpayers, funders and politicians would see this as a “value add” to the program/funding. Might a shadow logic fuel distrust among the public and funders?
Joelle: There’s not much of an issue if it’s just “value add” to an official logic model that works. However, the idea of the shadow LM is that the official logic model does not work, or does not work well, or is not needed and the shadow LM is the main or the only value (in this case – people who need social interaction do not even need the books). When funding and support are tied to the official LM there is an incentive to not discuss the shadow logic model too much.
Laureen Trainer says
Joelle, I agree! I like the idea of combining the “shadow” and “official” logic models to demonstrate the holistic outputs and outcomes of the program. Maybe that is not possible in every case, due to politics and restrictive funding streams, but it seems that in this case, the program could be accomplishing one or both of the outcomes. Perhaps the extra interaction, which can alleviate depression and loneliness, combined with access to books might actually spur people to read more books.
Chris Lysy says
I think logic models are really nice as sense making tools. But then they have this tendency of getting built up and turned inflexible.
One of the things I really liked about Celestyna’s visual is it just created a really direct way of addressing the fact that reality likely doesn’t match what’s written down on paper. Which then helps spawn a conversation.
Conny Graft says
I love this! Often, unintended outcomes turn out to be the most valuable to the target audience, and this is a great example of how that happens. Thank you for sharing this!
Chris Lysy says
And thank you for commenting Conny 🙂
In the logic models I use, these “Shadow Logic Models” are included as a secondary component of the logic model as “Co-occurring Areas of Need.” Take one of my grantees that I work with as an example. This community has received a grant for the prevention of substance misuse so the focus of their grant is to implement activities, media campaigns, and prevention education for alcohol and marijuana use among youth. What, why, how, and to what end are identified in the logic model, then, below the primary component which is what funds the programs there is a space to add co-occurring areas of need and to answer the same questions.
The idea of the shadow logic model is that the official logic model does not work – it’s not the same as additions or unintended consequences of a working logic model.
Chris Lysy says
I guess the question would be “work for whom?”
I like Melissa’s “co-occurring areas of need.” The effectiveness of so many programs (and their models) depends a lot on the perspective of different stakeholders.
But I also see your point Celestyna. The need for the shadow model definitely goes up when you see a model that doesn’t seem to work as designed but still has a lot of support. So asking what it is achieving for stakeholders becomes much more than just examining unintended consequences.
Mary Davis says
Thanks Chris and Celestyna for an interesting post and discussion. One of the most lauded programs in the US for youth drug use prevention was D.A.R.E which did not fulfill its intended outcomes but there were “shadow” outcomes that people loved such as the positive press and image of the program. Perhaps another shadow logic model example?
Michelle Brodesky says
Thanks for this post!
The idea of the shadow logic model really underscores the “for whom” question that evaluation should do a better job of addressing. In the example, the reading outcomes don’t matter to the intended beneficiaries, but the social interaction and loneliness outcomes do. If we’re designing programs and designing evaluation with them at the center, then the “shadow” logic model is what really matters.