So far, we have talked about the vertical, up and down, logic of the hierarchy
of objectives and established a Why-How, Ends-Means, relationship between its
levels. However, there is also a horizontal, left-right, logic that specifies
what "outcomes" the project is to achieve at each level and
this makes clear what assumptions are being made at each level. These assumptions
can be thought of as "if-then" relationships. For example: "If
the new farming practices are effective, then the yields on rice production should
increase enough to cover the added cost of the inputs and also provide an increased
profit to the farmer."
This horizontal logic is made explicit by adding two columns to the hierarchy
of objectives table. These are: "Measurable Indicators of Results"
and "Assumptions". Items in the measures column make it easier to evaluate
progress during project implementation as well as the impact after implementation
i.e. during the following operations. Items in the assumptions column help people
to understand the "conditions", i.e. the if-then relationships that
must exist for the project to achieve the higher-level objectives.
The horizontal logic for the example of the rice project is shown in Figure
By making explicit their thinking about measures and assumptions, the project
teams are giving reviewers, including the potential beneficiaries, a better opportunity
to understand their thinking and to help them avoid mistakes. For example, the
planners are assuming that the price of rice will not fall as production, i.e.
supply, increases. How realistic is this assumption? If there is considerable
reason to doubt it, then the proposed project must be considered highly risky.
Perhaps a less risky alternative should be found?
Or perhaps the objective of increasing farmer income by $x,xxx is too optimistic
if the assumption is faulty? Maybe a $yyy increase is more realistic? Further,
related activities and conditions must also be taken into account. For example,
will storage and milling capacity have to be increased to accommodate larger
yields and will rice marketing need to be expanded to prevent a supply glut?
The big benefit of the hierarchy of objectives is that it makes this type of
discussion possible. So long as the hierarchy is not too complicated with too
many levels and columns, it provides a basis for analysis that policy makers,
beneficiaries, and other stakeholders can discuss and jointly shape a realistic
project. Perhaps that is why the technique, which was originally developed in
the 1970s, is again becoming popular as planners seek better ways of involving
stakeholders and developing practical solutions that meet real needs.