Outcome Mapping: Building learning and reflection into development programs

This book by Sarah Earl, Fred Carden and Terry Smutylo takes an original approach to assessing development impacts by focusing on the way in which people relate to each other and to their environment rather than simply evaluating the products a program produces. This book aims to improve the effectiveness of programs by proving information on how to be specific about the principle actors, the expected changes, and the strategies a program will employ. The steps involved in the outcome mapping approach are laid out and explained in this book, supported by detailed information on designing and facilitating workshops and a number of worksheets and examples.

This book is available as a free download (size 1.66mb)


"Outcome Mapping assumes that the boundary partners control change and that, as external agents, development programs only facilitate the process by providing access to new resources, ideas, or opportunities for a certain period of time. A focus on the behaviour of the boundary partners does not mean that the program decides how, when, and why those partners will change. In fact, by focusing on changes in behaviour, Outcome Mapping makes explicit something that has been accepted by development practitioners for a long time: the most successful programs are those that devolve power and responsibility to endogenous actors.

As development is essentially about people relating to each other and their environments, the focus of Outcome Mapping is on people. The originality of the methodology is its shift away from assessing the development impact of a program (defined as changes in state — for example, policy relevance, poverty alleviation, or reduced conflict) and toward changes in the behaviours, relationships, actions or activities of the people, groups, and organizations with whom a development program works directly. This shift significantly alters the way a program understands its goals and assesses its performance and results. Outcome Mapping establishes a vision of the human, social, and environmental betterment to which the program hopes to contribute and then focuses monitoring and evaluation on factors and actors within that program's direct sphere of influence. The program's contributions to development are planned and assessed based on its influence on the partners with whom it is working to effect change. At its essence, development is accomplished by, and for, people. Therefore, this is the central concept of Outcome Mapping." (Earl, Carden, Smutylo, 1971: 1-2)


Earl, S., Carden, F., & Smutylo, Q. (2001). Outcome mapping: building learning and reflection into development programs, Ottawa: International Development Research Centre.


'Outcome Mapping: Building learning and reflection into development programs' is referenced in: