Programme design

How to formulate strong outputs

Outputs are arguably not the most important level of the results chain. It is outcomes that should be the focus of a good plan. Ultimately, that´s what counts.

However, outputs still matter.

Just to be clear: Simply put, outputs refer to changes in skills or abilities or the availability of new products and services. In plain lingo: Outputs are what we plan to do to achieve a result.

Ok, let’s be a bit more precise: Outputs usually refer to a group of people or an organization that has improved capacities, abilities, skills, knowledge, systems, or policies or if something is built, created or repaired as a direct result of the support provided. That’s a definition we can work with.

Language is important

When describing what you do, focus on the change, not the process. Language matters.

Don’t say: ‘Local organisations will support young women and men in becoming community leaders.’ This emphasises the process rather than the change.

Instead, emphasis what will be different as a result of your support. Say: ‘Young women and men have the skills and motivation to be community leaders’

Make it time-bound

An organization’s support is typically not open-ended. You usually expect to wrap up what you do at a certain time. Emphasise that your activities are carried out within a certain time frame. So it’s always helpful to include in the formulation for example ‘By January 2019, …’. 

A formula for describing what you do

To ensure that you accurately describe what you do, use the following formula:

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How to formulate strong outputs

by Thomas Winderl time to read: 1 min