Explicit Impact Pathway Design
A first and fundamental step will be to develop clear and explicit impact pathways (aka outcome maps; theory of change) at the level of projects, themes and components.
The CRP-FTA proposal contains stylized impact pathways for each of the five components and for the CRP as a whole. These pathways represent the theoretical links between research outputs and research outcomes and between research outcomes and impacts. As such, they provide the rationale for the proposed research outputs. However, as they are framed in generic outcome language (i.e. lacking details on who, where, when), they do not provide sufficient guidance for research design. Moreover, the specific activities that CGIAR scientists may need to undertake with partners in order to generate research outcomes are not identified in the pathways; those activities and relationships are implied in the arrows connecting research outputs to research outcomes.
Components, themes and individual projects will be supported to elaborate and describe much more specific and detailed impact pathways using the Outcome Mapping approach and methods. They will also be guided to develop plans for outcome and performance monitoring, which will include progress markers and strategy maps. One member from the MEIA team will be assigned to each of the components to provide ongoing assistance in developing more explicit impact pathways and designing research activities to assess and revise them.
The proposed approach puts increased focus on outcomes as behavioral change, with more explicit appreciation and utilization of outcomes as part of defining, describing, understanding and analyzing impact pathways. There is an emphasis on outcome assessment because outcomes can be attributed more directly than impacts to CRP-FTA outputs. Moreover, outcomes are defined as milestones towards impacts and will be realized in shorter time frames. Since CRPs are to be evaluated each 5-6 years, it is vital that an outcome monitoring system be functional.