The Theory of Change

Aug 30, 2018 by

Nina Thüllen and Karin Küblböck introduced us to an approach to develop change projects. Nina and Karin who have decades of experience of NGO engagement guided us together through an interactive process, embedded in sharing their knowledge.
The focus was on on ways to challenge the harsh situation in the fashion industry while bearing in mind that we won’t come out of the classroom with a finished campaign. To stimulate ourselves on the topic, we watched the touching movie “True Cost” the day before.

As personal resources and potentials play a key role in every project, we have been interviewing each other with the aim to appreciate ourselves at the beginning of the session. It is quite unusual in the daily context that we appreciate ourselves and look at our strengths and resources.The interviewer, further experienced also the challenge to stay away from judgements, advices and responses, to fully enable the interviewed person to express themselves.

To analyse the context of our exercise topic, we looked back at the movie, reflecting and sharing our impressions and feelings on the movie. A huge variety of impressions occured: horrify, anger, powerlessness etc. On the one hand such films do leave us frustrated and helpless, with this mindset change cannot happen. On the other hand, to connect us to such a huge issue the accompanied feelings can also be a source of motivation and energy.

Furthermore, we discussed in small groups possible visions for our campaign and came up with a compromise on all suggestions. In real change projects processes, this process takes the most time, the compromise was heavily discussed also in our case.

Based on a common vision, we walked through a stakeholder analysis and worked out objectives with the approach of the SMART concept – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timed.

The most entertaining part was, to brainstorming on tactics. In our group we had activists that had the idea of organizing naked protests and place awareness stickers on fast-fashion. As well we had more diplomatic group members, that were looking for dialogue with brand-owner and looking for corporations with certifications labels.

After all, as it was quite interactive through the entire day, for many of us it felt still very theoretical and not tangible enough. Nevertheless, we saw the relevance and value of this concept for our own group change-project, on which we work in the summer-school.
Also what is worth mentioning is the challenge for Nina, Karin and us all, to do a workshop through an entire day with more than 60 people. Respect to us all.


Written by: Jakob Andreas Feldbauer

Based on the lecture held by: Nina Thüllen and Karin Küblböck (“Theory of Change”)