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Feb 17th, 2014 Share: Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share on LinkedIn

Theory Of Change

We’re back! After a two week (vacation-induced) hiatus, which Jane and I spent traveling in Ethiopia, we are back in the Bay Area. And I have lots of exciting things planned for the near future. More on this soon…

Non-profit organizations talk a lot about their “theory of change” — a methodology to highlight causal linkages in an initiative (“if we install a fresh water well in this community we reduce bacterial infections by x% due to reduced exposure to water-borne diseases”).

It’s a pretty powerful concept for any startup — not just non-profits: The best (and arguably most successful) startups nudge their users toward a behavioral change. Once you get your user to change their behavior towards your product you won. Take Instagram: For a whole bunch of people Instagram became the go-to photo app — they changed their behavior from using the photo app which came with their smartphone toward Instagram. Instagram’s theory of change goes something like this: “We give people awesome filters which make even mediocre snapshots look great and make it easy for them to share those pics with their friends and thus become the go-to photo app.”

I am pretty sure that the Instagram team made these decisions very deliberately.

What’s your theory of change?

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