OLM: Definition and Process

OLM Definition

An outcome logic model (OLM) is a table outlining the important components of a proposed business or an organizational innovation. Your table is going to be a typical table with columns and rows. It has 6 columns. Columns present Assumptions, Inputs, Activities, Outputs, Outcomes, and Impacts. The key feature of an outcome last model is that the rows are connected logically to each other. Starting after Assumptions, which may be loosely connected, and starting with Inputs to Activities to Outputs to Outcomes to Impacts, the rows demonstrate a relationship among the columns. You can trace that if I put this Input into the logic model, this is the Output and the Impact that I can expect from it.

Assumptions are typically a kind of market research. They are termed assumptions because they don’t have to be facts or verifiable. They can be ideas, feelings, even rumors that you come up with. They aren’t necessarily tied to any Input.

Everything else is connected. Your inputs are directly connected to Activities. Those are directly going to influence your outputs, outcomes, and impacts. Visually, you would be able to see that progression in your table. The relationships between the elements is indicated by the rows in the table.

The Process Beyond Brainstorming

One may think that the process of developing an outcome logic model requires some prior construct or plan for how you would like the business to operate. On the contrary, that’s really what is useful about the OLM. It is a framework to start with. It organizes your thoughts requiring answers to critical operational questions as you work through the rows. The process helps you to think through your ideas starting from the assumptions. It elicits your ideas about the inputs asking what you have that’s already available for you to start making things happen. It then takes it a step further from brain storming and really asks you to tie this input to a specific output. What’s going to come out of it? Specifically, not just generally.

For example, I’m going to take this input of $50,000. I’m going to create a “good program” with the investment. Through the OLM, you are supported to state more specifically what the outputs will be and what the outcomes are going to be. You are prompted to state how they are going to be measured and the intended impact or the feeling or the change within a community with that $50,000.

That logic is the core of outcome logic model. It is the ability to respond to investors or sponsors who helped you to gather that input and say, “Here is what we plan to do with your investment. Before you implement, you be clear with what’s going on. Everybody’s on the same page before anything has started. That’s why it is valuable as a business activity. You’re able to challenge yourself to present the value proposition and outcomes on paper. Then, hopefully you can produce those projections in practice.