What would you respond to the question: “Why this project?”
Most people would respond with, e.g. … ‘productivity will improve’, ‘raised efficiency’, ‘professionalism increased’, ‘CSR mainstreamed’, but also because researchers have a ‘brilliant idea’, there are ‘funds available’, the ‘management wants this project’, etc, etc. Actually creative people will generate endless potential benefits …
All these responses are like ‘perceived expectations’ and ‘perceived opportunities’. These are all positive assumptions that are hard to argue about as the evidence lies in the future. And we have mostly no idea whether someone is actually waiting for such a project and its services…. However, these arguments can hardly be considered as a justification to launch a project…. On the contrary!
The Logical Framework Analysis method however is driven by what goes wrong in a specific situation or what the problem is according to the different stakeholders. This ‘why’ is quite different from the above described future ‘dreams’. Identifying the ‘real existing negative state’ is one of the most important elements of the LFA and also one of the most difficult one, as it requires KNOWLEDGE OF THE REAL SITUATION.
Actually, as project designer, you need to know the perceptions of the stakeholders and particularly of the end-users about what problems they experience. And that is not easy! You need to create a safe environment in which they are prepared to share their frustrations and pain and moreover you need to really listen to the stakeholders and observe carefully and limit your own pre-conceived perceptions.
As we all know a project is only relevant if it addresses specific problems of specific well-determined (vulnerable) end-users. Knowledge about the actual problems of the end-users is crucial in order to determine the objectives to offer by the project.
So, planning needs to start with ‘brain-tapping’ of end-users and other stakeholders about their situation and not with ‘brainstorming’ all kinds of benefits, dreams and illusions induced by pre-conceived solutions and hidden agendas as so often appears to be the case.