This article discusses "theory of change" and its application in the context of private foundations and organisations seeking to improve society. It distinguishes between a general theory of how social change happens and a project's strategy for achieving its goals. Building on the ideas of Elinor Ostrom, this article proposes a broader theory of how complex systems evolve, including organisms, ecosystems, communities, and societies. The evolution of norms, rules, institutions, and cultures is likened to biological evolution, with selection occurring at multiple levels. This article also explores scenario planning to envision plausible futures and guide intentional change. It emphasizes the need for a cultural evolutionary theory of change to create sustainable and desirable futures.
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