A social change strategy checklist

1. What's really going on?

Situation analysis
  • What's happening at the moment with this issue? In your sphere, in politics, etc.
  • What’s the bigger picture?

Problem definition
  • What evidence is there that there is a problem? What are the indicators that need to change?
  • What do/don’t you know about the problem?

Options for solutions
  • What change(s) will solve this problem?
  • What has/hasn’t worked and what are the lessons?
  • What are the barriers to solving this problem?
  • How can they be reduced or eliminated?
  • Who else could solve this problem?
  • Is it possible to form an alliance with them?
  • What alliances would provide synergies?
  • What is the role of your organisation in solving this problem and how can it best be achieved?

2. Define outcomes to be achieved

Break campaign aims into a series of achievable steps.
  • E.g. short, medium and long-term outcomes.
  • Link these to the particular adopted communication model, e.g. Stages of Change.

3. Identify audiences to be engaged

Include demographic segmentation, but extend to identifying:
  • Audience characteristics (through consumer research).
  • Primary and secondary audiences, e.g. business leaders, government ministers and the people who influence them.
  • Opinion leaders who can assist your program.
  • Potential campaign partners.
  • What drives change among these audiences, e.g values, personal motivations and cultural, structural and economic factors?
  • Supporters and activists you can mobilise to reach above audiences.
  • What resources or support do your partners need?

4. Define changes you want the audiences to make

  • Identify structural changes minimising the need for individual change.
  • What options are there for mandatory change, e.g. legislation?
  • What are the major barriers to change?
  • What are the bridges leading audiences to voluntarily change?
  • How can you frame changes to be attractive, achievable and sustainable for each audience?
  • Identify internal resistance to change (e.g. individual behaviours).
  • Identify external hindrances, e.g. oppositional and competing agencies. (Your responses might range from co-option, collaboration, attack, neutralise or benign avoidance.)
  • Given limited resources, what can you achieve most cost-effectively?
  • What are risks in this plan, e.g. what could go wrong? How can you mitigate these risks?

5. Research

  • What formative research will you conduct as part of the process evaluation? Process evaluation is conducted during the development of the campaign, e.g. surveys and focus groups  to find out what  audiences feel, believe and want in relation to the issue?
  • How will you measure the success of the initial impact of the campaign. Impact evaluation concerns the short-term indicators of change e.g. communications responses such as people joining in tree planting activities.
  • What are the outcomes over the next one to 10 years that you are seeking? Outcome evaluation refers to the longer-term measures of change, e.g. reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

Review Checklist

Review your planning: have these critical program planning factors have been addressed?

1. Is there an in-depth background analysis of the existing situation in relation to the problem to be solved?
2. Have realistic and measurable aims and objectives been set for evaluation?
3. Are mechanisms in place to track program implementation and produce clear process, impact and outcome evaluations?
4. Are short, medium and long-term planning and development stages outlined?
5. Is there evidence of a deep understanding of the values, feelings and perceptions of the selected target audiences?
6. Have you considered all possible structural or mandatory changes so it is unnecessary for audiences to change individual behaviours?
7. Are you offering something the audience values in exchange for doing what they are being asked to do?
8. Do you meet audience needs in attractive and accessible ways at minimal ‘cost’?
9. Is your offer the most attractive in the face of other competition or audience resistance to change?
10. Have local staff or organisation members been engaged in the strategy development so they are primed to support the program?
11. Are mechanisms in place to coordinate state, regional and local activities?
12. Have coalitions been developed to assist in program development, delivery and evaluation?
13. Has an adequate budget been allocated?
14. Will change be sustainable?
15. What are the risks faced? How can these risks be mitigated?

Copyright © Gerald Frape & Sean Kidney, 2009