Tool 2: WSI Model – A Template to Describe the Logic of WSIs



Quick reference

Tool The WSI Model provides a template to help participants understand how a WSI will be structured, function, and generate benefits.
Related Key Activity Regularly question and verify theory of change.
Questions Addressed Given that participants typically have different understandings of what the WSI should do and why, how can they capture the logic of the WSI at a glance and in a way everyone understands?
Purpose Clarify the logic of the WSI to reduce room for interpretation and misappropriation of the initiative:

  • Structure and understand the governance and logic of a WSI in a participatory process.
  • Establish a reference to assess and improve the WSI’s integrity and impact.
Output Jointly developed overview of the most important aspects of the WSI and its context.
Possible Users WSI initiator(s) with input from WSI participants.
Level of Effort Two- to three-hour participatory session in a workshop or meeting, and regular amendments or reflections to capture new developments in the WSI and its theory of change.
WSI Phase 2: Formalization, but can be used at any phase.


Guidance for implementation

The WSI Model can be used at any stage of the life cycle to reflect on the WSI’s theory of change, but it is particularly useful during the formalization phase to capture and present the agreements reached in a concise format. If developed before reaching written agreements, it can inform the discussions on these. The WSI Model is ideally developed in a participatory process (e.g., as part of a management workshop) with all or most WSI participants, in order to promote joint understanding of the initiative and its context. However, it can also be used as a design instrument by WSI initiators at early stages of an initiative. The three steps below could guide a participatory workshop setting.


Supporting Guidance

WSI facilitators and core participants usually agree at an early stage on the cornerstones of how a WSI will operate and generate shared benefits. Nonetheless, the written agreements often take time to develop and use legal language that is not easily understood by all WSI participants. This leaves room for contradicting interpretations and expectations among WSI participants and beneficiaries, which can result in conflicts and undermine the accountability relationships among different stakeholders both within and outside the WSI. The WSI Model (a sample model is provided at the end of this tool) provides a structure through which WSI participants can discuss and agree on key aspects of the WSI in simple terms, establishing a shared understanding among all participants. Doing so helps create transparency and provides key information for an analysis of the most salient integrity risks the WSI may face. Beyond this, the WSI Model helps to clarify the theory of change along nine building blocks:

  1. Participants
  2. Activities
  3. Governance structures
  4. Commitments and contributions
  5. Goals and objectives
  6. Mechanisms for engaging affected stakeholders
  7. Affected stakeholders
  8. Local water challenges and priorities
  9. Benefits


Further Reading

  • Alex Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur. 2009. Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers (Osterwalder & Pigneur, ISBN 978-2-8399-0580-0). (Also: 2010. Wiley, ISBN-10: 0470876417).


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