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Theory of transformation principle

Design and evaluate transformation based on an evidence-supported Theory of Transformation.


A theory of change specifies how a project or program attains desired outcomes. Transformation is not a project. It is multi-dimensional, multi-faceted, and multilevel, cutting across national borders and intervention silos, across sectors and specialized interests, connecting local and global, and sustaining across time. A theory of transformation incorporates and integrates multiple theories of change operating at many levels that, knitted together, explain how major systems transformation occurs.


  • Systems transformation is the focus for both design and evaluation.
  • Systems transcend projects and programs though they may be thought of as subsystems.
  • Transformation transcends project and program level changes while building on and integrating them for greater momentum and cumulative impact.
  • Complexity theory and systems thinking inform and permeate transformative theory.
  • No one, no organization, no entity, and no network is in charge of, controls, or manages transformation, but synergistic interactions can propel and accelerate transformation.
  • Transformational engagement and momentum will generate opposition and resistance from those who benefit from the status quo.
  • Transformation frames the nature, scope, and magnitude of change desired and needed, but values, stakes, and perspectives inform judgments about the desirability of the direction of transformation.