A results chain is a diagram that depicts the assumed causal linkages between your actions and their desired impacts through a series of intermediate results. It is a graphic depiction of the way you expect your strategy to unfold. In developing and refining your results chain or chains, you will iteratively test and tighten your reasoning. Your completed results chain and its narrative will be important tools for conveying your strategy, and the thinking behind it, to important stakeholders including donors, partners, decision-makers and stakeholders.
A results chain is a diagram that depicts the assumed causal linkage between an intervention and desired impacts through a series of expected intermediate results (Foundations of Success 2009, Margulis et al. 2013). We recommend starting results chains (on the left) with a statement of the undesirable state you wish to alter, and ending them (on the right) with a statement of the desirable state you wish to achieve. The description of the undesirable state can be a statement of a key challenge identified in previous steps. The results chain should set you up to assess whether a given strategy will likely achieve the minimum goal, so elements on the right leading to the desired state should reflect elements of your minimum goal statement. Including language defining the undesirable and desirable states also helps ensure results chains represent causal logic from conservation action all the way to outcome, rather than stopping short at implementation of actions or intermediate outcomes.
The example shown here demonstrates how the links in a situation analysis can be modified and expanded upon to show the change expected by the implementation of a strategy.
First identify the relevant components of the full situation analysis associated with a key challenge. This is shown in Figure 6 where the relevant components of the wind energy situation analysis are shown in color and the remainder is grayed out. This helps focus on expected changes from implementing a strategy while clarifying additional drivers that may influence effectiveness of the strategy, or non-target changes that may present opportunities or risks.
Then identify how the conservation strategy (action) will affect conservation and human well-being elements. This is shown in Figure 7 where red text emphasizes expected changes in the system that may result from the conservation strategy. Each link reflected in the results chain should articulate a testable hypothesis about cause and effect. Results chains should depict changes in primary interests (in this case, grassland extent, connectivity and quality) as well as other expected changes (in italics; e.g. increased recreational opportunities, decreased respiratory disease).