When developing your ESD plan it is important to consider what the long term impact of your strategy will be. The average enterprise and supplier development programme takes about two years to complete. During this time you would have to test your assumptions to find out if they can be validated. If you leave the programme to run without testing your assumptions you might find that you have gone of the track somewhere during the programme. You might also find that unintended consequences have occurred during the program.
As an example lets take the case of a major mining company that decides to do business loans as part of their ESD plan. The intention at the beginning of the programme would be to assist small companies and thereby create jobs. The major KPI’s during the start-up phase could be as simple as finding companies to loan money to. As the process continuous the mining company might start to realise that a lot of their focus becomes the management of loan repayments and all the administrative burden of running a financial services contract. As an unintended consequence small business owners might have started to borrow money elsewhere to repay the loans that they have outstanding with the mining company.
A theory of change provides you with a roadmap to articulate and theorise on how the change will bring about the required social impact. Your theory of change is your starting point to measuring the impact of your ESD Programme. Unfortunately most companies equate their theory of change to the score that they will be receiving on their BBBEE scorecard or the branding that they will be receiving from their campaign for social good.
When you complete your ESD Plan make sure therefore to include your theory for change in the plan to indicate how you expect to see the impact of your initiatives translate towards change in the communities or the ecosystem that you are seeking to impact.