Problem Analysis

Stigma is all around us, and to figure out how to change it you’ll first want to understand it as best you can. Here are some tools that may help you more clearly identify and define a large, complex problem like stigma:

Problem Statements Using “Situation/Impact”

A problem statement summarizes the situation or problem you want to change. When addressing stigma, it’s useful to use a “Situation … Impact” frame, first describing what’s going on and then what the consequences are. We used this frame with the Culture Change Strategy Group. Group members generated problem statements such as:

“The media is failing the public when it covers abortion. Often, the digital and print news does not cover abortion at all, and when they do, the stories are silencing and stigmatizing. The narratives exaggerate safety concerns, advance stereotypes of women of color, and focus on policy or tragedy. The impact of this narrow and biased coverage of abortion is that people who have abortions don’t see experiences that reflect their own, and the public doesn’t see realistic or positive depictions of abortion. The larger impact is that public opinion is difficult to shift.

--AND--

“The abortion access movement has struggled to successfully engage with religious communities. As a result, we‘re trapped in debates that dismiss the shared values of abortion advocates, many of which we share with religious believers, which could help lay a foundation for bridging this gap.

Problem definition tool:

One of our favorite resources for program planning tools is the DIY Toolkit. Their DIY Problem Definition tool guides you through prioritizing and understanding key issues.

Systems thinking iceberg:

Stigma is a systemic issue operating at multiple levels of culture. This systems thinking “iceberg” approach helps you dig deeper to understand the origins and causes of stigma, as well as how it can manifest.

Conceptual models:

Conceptual models are visual representations of the problem including its roots and consequences. These can be particularly useful in defining a problem prior to research. There are a lot of different ways to conceptualize abortion stigma, depending on what stigma you’re looking at and what you’re interested in. Here are some examples of conceptual models of stigma for you to explore. If you’re interested in developing your own conceptual model, check out our guide to creating them.

Problem Statements

A problem statement summarizes the situation or problem you want to change. When addressing stigma, it’s useful to use a “Situation … Impact” frame, first describing what’s going on and then what the consequences are. We used this frame with the Culture Change Strategy Group, who generated problem statements such as: “The media is failing the public when it covers abortion. Often, the digital and print news does not cover abortion at all, and when they do, the stories are silencing and stigmatizing. The narratives exaggerate safety concerns, advance stereotypes of women of color, and focus on policy or tragedy. The impact of this narrow and biased coverage of abortion is that people who have abortions don’t see experiences that reflect their own, and the public doesn’t see realistic or positive depictions of abortion. The larger impact is that public opinion is difficult to shift.”

and 

“The abortion access movement has struggled to successfully engage with religious communities. As a result, we‘re trapped in debates that dismiss the shared values of abortion advocates, many of which we share with religious believers, which could help lay a foundation for bridging this gap.” 

View All problem statements
Problem definition tool:

This DIY problem definition tool guides you through prioritizing and understanding key issues:

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Systems thinking iceberg:

Stigma is a systems-wide problem. This systems thinking “iceberg” approach helps you dig deeper to understand the origins and causes of abortion stigma, as well as how it can manifest:

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Conceptual models:

There are a lot of different ways to conceptualize abortion stigma, depending on what stigma you’re looking at and what you’re interested in. Here are some examples of conceptual models of stigma for you to explore. If you’re interested in developing your own conceptual model, check out our guide to creating them.

In 1963

In 1963, American sociologist Erving Goffman described stigma as a mark or “attribute that is deeply discrediting” and that “reduces an individual from a whole and usual person to a tainted, discounted one.” Since Goffman’s groundbreaking book on stigma, researchers and practitioners have applied his concepts to understand the experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals, the mentally ill, people living with HIV and AIDS, sex workers, and other marginalized groups.

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In 2001

In 2001, Link and Phelan expanded our understanding of stigma by conceptualizing stigma as a social process in which individuals are (1) labeled as different, (2) stereotyped or associated with negative attributes, (3) conceived of as an “other,” and then (4) subjected to status loss and discrimination.

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In 2009

In 2009,  Kumar, Hessini and Mitchell expanded on these models of stigma by applying them to the specific case of abortion.

Read Article

Theory of Change

A theory of change is a way to explore the pathways for change between your problem and your ultimate vision or goals. Theories of change are useful to help you communicate about your plans with others, to help you prioritize and design your activities, and to help you evaluate your project.

Sea Change articulated our Theory of Change using this diagram. The diagram helped us to explain our theory that people who experience stigma can move from silence and isolation to collective empowerment.

While our theory of change was meant to be a figurative visual depiction of a change process, theories of change can also be diagrams what walk people through the assumptions behind your work. We like to use this theory of change model from the DIY Toolkit.  We’ve adopted the DIY Toolkit’s model as a template that you can copy and fill in on your own.

Do I need a Theory of Change or a Logic Model? 

Theories of Change and Logic Models are often confused. Theories of change are usually used to define a theory of how change happens. Logic Models are used to articulate the short, medium and long term goals of a project or program. We love this article by Piroska Bisits Bullen that artfully explains the distinctions between the two processes and offers examples.

Our Theory of Change

Here’s our original Theory of Change which explores how people who have abortions can move from silence and isolation into collective empowerment.

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DIY toolkit

We like to use this theory of change model from the DIY toolkit.

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Model Template

We’ve also adopted this model as a template in Google Docs that you can copy and fill in on your own:

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Logic Model?

Do I need a Theory of Change or a Logic Model?

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Logic Model

A logic model is a road map of how your project is supposed to work. It lays out the goals, activities, and outcomes for your project in a way that helps you think through your plan of action, measure your work, and communicate about your work with others. Logic models are commonly used in public health, public policy, and program planning work as a way to think through what actions are needed to achieve a particular goal.

Defining Short term, Medium Term, Long Term, and Indicators

Once you know what you’re dreaming of, it’s time to create shorter-term goals to help you get there. Looking at your vision statement, consider what you’d need to accomplish along the way: in the immediate term (measurable and immediate outputs, also known as indicators), the short term, the medium term, and the long-term. Logic models are a useful way of sketching out these goals, and this is a useful guide to get you started.

Back of the Envelope Project Planning with POP!

Sometimes you don’t have a lot of time to analyze a problem, identify strategies, or develop a logic model. So POP (Purpose/Outcomes/Process) is a quick and easy way to get started. We learned this process from the Rockwood Institute and have found it can be used for designing a meeting agenda and for communicating a new strategy idea. Consultant Suzanne Hawkes summarizes the idea here.

Strategy screen

We use strategy screens to help us prioritize and analyze incoming ideas and opportunities. Strategy screens help you figure out whether to say “yes” or “no” to a new opportunity, stay focused on what you need to be doing, and ensure that what you’re spending your energy on is aligned with your values. We worked with La Piana to develop our strategy screen, and they share this guide here to creating one.

Defining Long term, Medium Term, Long Term, and Indicators

Once you know what you’re dreaming of, it’s time to create shorter-term goals to help you get there. Looking at your vision statement, consider what you’d need to accomplish along the way: in the immediate term (measurable and immediate outputs, also known as indicators), the short term, the medium term, and the long-term. Logic models are a useful way of sketching out these goals, and this is a useful guide to get you started:

See the Guide
Back of the Envelope Project Planning with POP!

Sometimes you don’t have a lot of time to analyze a problem, identify strategies or develop a logic model. So POP (Purpose/Outcomes/Process) is a quick and easy way to get started. We borrowed this process from the Rockwood Institute and have found it can be used for designing a meeting agenda and for communicating a new strategy idea. Consultant Suzanne Hawkes summarizes the idea here.

Learn more about POP
Strategy Screen

We use strategy screens to help us prioritize and analyze incoming ideas and opportunities. Strategy screens help you figure out whether to say “yes” or “no” to a new opportunity, stay focused on what you need to be doing, and ensure that what you’re spending your energy on is aligned with your values. We worked with La Piana to develop our strategy screen, and they share a guide here to creating one:

Learn more
Sea Change's Strategy Screen

Here’s what Sea Change’s strategy screen looked like. Our whole team would use it to discuss incoming opportunities or partnerships and then decide whether to act on those opportunities.

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What Do You Want to Do Next?

strategy

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design

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research

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evaluation

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Strategy
See the Big Picture
Design
Turn Empathy into Action
Research
Add Light, Eliminate Shadows
Evaluation
Measure Impact

strategy

See the Big Picture
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Design

Create Solutions
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research

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evaluation

Measure Your Impact
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