Public and private innovation organisations strive to contribute to tackling global challenges such as climate change and growing inequality. System change that drives a sustainability transformation has become a shared goal and innovation policy and actions play a key role in this process. However, transformations are long-term processes that require interventions at various levels and in multiple locations. Hence, organisations working towards these transformations are in the need of frameworks and tools that can help them understand and assess the contribution that each action, be it a project, programme or other types of initiatives, has in the transformation of a system. Some of the most commonly used innovation policy frameworks and methods lack the systemic perspective required to achieve this goal. Therefore, we need tools and frameworks that facilitate the exchange between policy practitioners and experts, facilitating cocreation, promoting reflection and learning and unlocking systems for transformation.
This handbook contributes to accelerating a transition towards sustainability by providing a guide for the development of a Transformative Theory of Change, a methodology that helps projects, programmes and organisations to design, implement and evaluate interventions that contribute to systems transformation. The method combines a traditional Theory of Change approach with a multi-level perspective, a systems theory that describes how innovation emerges and transforms the incumbent system. It introduces Transformative Outcomes as levering points for transformation. The approach is designed to maximise learning among participants of an initiative.
The methodology presented in this handbook is based on a two-year co-development process, working hand in hand with three EIT Climate-KIC projects constructed around a portfolio of knowledge services for sustainable systems transformation in land use, urban planning and mobility. Furthermore, elements of the approach have been implemented in two additional EIT Climate-KIC RIS projects, Circular Economy Beacons and Transformation for Climate, during the second half of 2021. Working closely with project partners has provided us with three key lessons for ensuring a fruitful collaboration: Firstly, the need to develop adaptable and tailored processes that, in each stage of the project, generate concrete outputs (new information or data) which are carefully harvested, building a knowledge base for further engagements. Secondly, the importance of stimulating co-creation throughout the process, improving the shared understanding of the systems involved in a transformation and the actions needed to improve them. Lastly, the importance of ensuring a trusting relationship between researchers, facilitators and policy practitioners, transparency in the process structure and a shared ownership of the project outcomes.
Alvial Palavicino, C., Matti, C., Witte, J., Brodnik, C., Keesman, S., Mendez, P.F., Penna, C., Terrazas, P., Costante, N., Zinkstock, E. (2021) MOTION Handbook: Developing a Transformative Theory of Change. Available at https://transitionshub.climate-kic.org/publications/motion-handbook-developing-a-transformative-theory-of-change/