Slide1Recently I wrote about the power of play to accomplish our goals. It’s the way we roll at LightBox Collaborative, and I figured it would work in my personal life too.

In my case, the goal was to live a calmer life by reducing the clutter around me. The strategy: to draw inspiration from others. The tactic: the Clutter Games!

I won’t go into all the details because you can read them here. But the upshot was: fun can help you get the job done.

That is, when you are super clear what the job is. And when you don’t get so caught up in the exciting and fun tactics that you lose sight of the strategy underlying it all. This certainly applies to communications: how many of us have had to resist the impulse to create a shiny new communications product or social media campaign, instead of digging deeper into questions of strategy? This is a lot of what we challenge our clients around—considering goals and strategy before getting caught up in tactics.

What I realized, halfway through the Clutter Games, was that I had not yet considered long-term strategy. I had created a really fun tactic (if I do say so myself), but what would I do when the fun inevitably waned? Plus, as any organizer will tell you (and for this one instance I do not  mean a social change-maker, as I usually do!), it’s crucial to create systems that will limit the clutter for the long term. You know—that old saying about “a place for everything and everything in its place.” How was I going to accomplish this next step?

With the help of a Theory of Change! According to the Aspen Institute, a theory of change explains how a group of early and intermediate accomplishments sets the stage for producing long-range results.

LightBox collaborator Holly Minch describes her theory of change here, for a campaign of vital significance to her own life.

At LightBox, we like to tell clients that a theory of change defines a set of outcomes that create impact. More than that, a theory of change lines these outcomes up in order, so that we can be sure that our work builds on itself, and leads us to our intended results. We visualize a theory of change using a series of dominoes, all lined up in a row and ready to be knocked down with the first push.


So here’s my theory of change for achieving peace and tranquility in a clutter-free home. It’s definitely a work in progress—I’m not sure yet how I’ll achieve the outcome in the 2nd step. But I know it’s essential if I am to move forward and knock down that next domino. And who ever said change was easy?

As this blog goes to press, LightBox Collaborative client Bay Area Open Space Council just went public with their theory of change, in progress.

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Isobel White is a LightBox collaborator who believes that a theory of change coupled with the power of play can help to accomplish our goals.