The 8-pillar test: Are you a social entrepreneur or just a romantic dreamer?

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The 8-pillar test: Are you a social entrepreneur or just a romantic dreamer?

Category : Blog

I am persuaded that training young people on how to use nonprofit vehicles to address social problems is one of the most effective methods of teaching entrepreneurship in developing countries where economic growth is slow, youth unemployment is high and social problems are innumerable. The nonprofit environment tests all aspect of one’s leadership capacity; how to develop a logic model (vision-mission-strategy), how to mobilize volunteers (people engagement), how to raise funds (capital structure) and how to sustain the business model overtime (innovation). Unfortunately, there are many who enter this space, full of passion and ready to “change the world” but are sorely ignorant of the tools and techniques required for performance optimization. One of the things I enjoy doing is to consult pro bono for nonprofits. First question I always ask is, “What is your logic model or logframe like?” The response? 95% of the time I draw blank. With this, I never bother to even ask further questions about program monitoring or impact evaluation. It’s useless. Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) necessarily depend on logical framework analysis for context. You can’t measure goals you haven’t clarified. What I see most often is that early-stage actors within the development sector are more excited about project activities whether or not such activities are making any dent in whatever perceived problem they set out to solve in the first place. Given this backdrop, they confuse the fun and excitement of projects (selfies and all) as anecdotal evidence of impact. Nothing could be farther from sound logic.

Let me be blunt. No donor and grant-making organization within the development sector will take you seriously without a credible logical framework. In fact it is a sound logical framework analysis that forms the bedrock of any potentially successful project proposal.


The 8-Point Test

So here are the key questions that must be broached if you are to achieve any meaningful success in your quest to translate a lofty vision into concrete outcomes.

1. Why do you want to do what you plan to do?

2. What problem are you trying to solve, and in what sector?

3. Is there any dataset to suggest that it is indeed a problem?

4. What goals are you trying to achieve in your attempt to make a dent in this ‘problem’?

5. Who will benefit from your proposed solution (key client and stakeholders)?

6. What specific (measurable) outcome(s) would be realized by your intervention?

7. What deliverables or outputs would come out of your intervention?

8. What specific activities would you undertake to realize the expected results?

These core principles apply equally to a typical nonprofit that depends on outside funding and a social enterprise that has its own sustainable revenue stream.

Clarifying The Horizontal Logic

Addressing all these fundamental questions is essentially the vertical logic of your intervention (program/project). The horizontal logic defines how you create connectivity between the “How” of these fundamental questions. So for instance, how would we know if you are achieving your goal, reaching your objectives or pursuing the activities that will lead to the deliverables and ultimately, the outcomes? What external conditions (beyond your control) is necessary for the realization of your goals? So in terms of establishing a horizontal logic, first, define the objectively verifiable indications or key performance indicators (in corporate parlance) and provide means of verifying same. For instance, what data source would you use (verification) to track a performance metric that serves as an indicator for your goal of retraining 50 commercial sex workers at Kwame Nkrumah circle in Accra by December 2017? And what conditions would make this intervention a success? That in essence is your horizontal logic. The horizontal logic must be defined for all the program components (goals, outcomes, outputs and activities). Your Logframe should look something like the Table below.

Use it Always

A Logframe is a crucial and indeed popular planning tool used in the development sector. In fact it has tremendous utility in the private corporate sector as well. Without being named as such it is used by all top-performing brands globally, in one format or another, to create a strategic framework for growth.

It is the basis upon which Monitoring and Evaluation in the development sector is performed and also the standard framework to conducting variance analysis at Monthly Performance Reviews (MPR) within corporate settings.

Logical Frameworks must be used by all as a basic planning tool for performance optimization. For more information on how to develop one for a project or functional activity such as sales, contact

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