Our Theory of Change

Image of machinery flywheel.

In a machine, a flywheel stores and amplifies kinetic energy.

Through the force of its rotation, the flywheel builds momentum and store energy for later deployment. We can think of libraries the same way – helping to aggregate community interests and efforts in a way that can build momentum when deployed at the right moment.

Of course, communities are far more complex than machines. You can’t fully design a community, nor can you control all the forces at work within it. Intentional planning can help an organization direct its efforts for exponential impact – creating outcomes that are resonant, measurable, and visible to funders, electeds, and community stakeholders alike. It’s this principle that sits at the heart of Flywheel Strategies.

We believe that lasting change for libraries comes from three ongoing processes:

Process 1: Always be listening.
Successful libraries are listeners by default. Having a strong understanding of your community’s values, aspirations, and stakeholders can help your organization position itself within the local ecosystem. This goes beyond just providing good service – having an ear to the ground at all times means you have a better sense of areas in which your community is successful and where it might be struggling.

We can help you identify the power structures at work within a community network, and allow you to better prioritize your outward-facing work in service of shared community goals. 

Process 2: Measure and act upon the places you are making an impact.
Community-focused organizations like libraries use a wide variety of tools to measure their work. Knowing how to talk about these metrics in relation to community goals can contribute to shared definitions of success that resonate with people both in and out of your organization. 

We can help you break down your data in ways that go beyond “did the numbers go up this year?” – helping to illustrate impact, and help your constituents become more invested in your success. 

Process 3: Amplify and curate community works in service of shared goals.
Being able to identify and measure shared community resources builds trust in your organization. As a library’s relationship with the community evolves, it can help identify new community priorities, using its own position of privilege to catalyze grassroots action. 

We can help you find these leverage points in your community, employing the library’s natural role as a collector of stories to define and act toward new shared goals. 

Bringing these principles to life is not an overnight process. It is a lens on day-to-day services, a mechanism for building relationships, and on ongoing gut-check on long-range strategic goals.
Each of these principles is designed to work in relation to one another, and allow organizations operate on an iterative model of continuous improvement. 

If you think your organization might like to explore this theory of change with us, please get in touch.