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Theory of Change



  • Imagine you want to decrease the size of the defense budget. The typical way you might approach this is to look around at the things you know how to do and do them on the issue of decreasing the defense budget
  • Let’s call this strategy a “theory of action”: you work forwards from what you know how to do to try to find things you can do that will accomplish your goal.
  • A theory of change is the opposite of a theory of action — it works backwards from the goal, in concrete steps, to figure out what you can do to achieve it. To develop a theory of change, you need to start at the end and repeatedly ask yourself, “Concretely, how does one achieve that?”.
  • It’s not easy. It could take a while before you get to a concrete action that you can take. But do you see how this is entirely crucial if you want to be effective? Now maybe if you’re only writing a blog post, it’s not worth it. Not everything we do has to be maximally effective.


  • I am currently using this theory to find the core of how I can build a second income. It is less about trying to fit my skills into the market as to understanding fundamentally what people are paying for and how I could create something to meet those existing demands. Of course, my own skillset will be important as I create a marketable product or service but I have been thinking about the process in the wrong direction.
  • Looking forward to exploring this concept more as I believe it is quite powerful when implemented correctly.