Some highlights from the first 30 book launches for How Change Happens

November 17, 2016
I’m about six weeks into launching How Change Happens, and am having a great (if knackering) time. Highlights so far include a Kurdish/Dutch guitar combo warming up the crowd in Nijmegen, conversations with an Islamic finance entrepreneur trying to do financial inclusion in South Wales, a great group of women managing a community-run service station on the M5 motorway and a

Fragility v Conflict – can you help with a new 2×2 please?

November 16, 2016
Struggling towards the finishing line on my paper on empowerment and accountability (E&A) in fragile and conflict- affected settings (FCAS) – thanks to everyone who commented on the first draft, by the way). It’s nearly there but I need your help with one particular section. I want to argue that lumping ‘fragile’ and ‘conflict’ together in one category is very

Overcoming Premature Evaluation

November 15, 2016
Chris Roche (the koala – I’m the kangaroo, right) is a friend and a brilliant development thinker, even if he has an alarming tendency to be able to reference development jargon like a machine gun. If you can get past the first para, this is well worth your time. There is a growing interest in safe-fail experimentation, failing fast and rapid

Links I Liked

November 14, 2016
A polarized nation: Donald Trump won every subgroup of white voters except female college grads. He lost every single subgroup of non-white voters. [h/t Caroline O] Saturday Night Live has had a brilliant election campaign, and finished it off in style with this moving tribute from Kate McKinnon (as Hillary Clinton), brilliantly combining a tribute to Leonard Cohen and Hillary

Only (re)Connect. The US elections, How Change Happens and where do we go from here?

November 11, 2016
This is just me indulging in a little personal therapy as I come to terms with this week’s political earthquake. If you want the official Oxfam response, we’re working on it, but you’ll have to wait (should be out before the 2020 elections). So this is just me. Is that clear? Good. Trexit? Brump? 2016 is proving to be one

Campaigning for Change: Lessons of History. Top new book, free to download

November 10, 2016
I’ve blogged a couple of times on a fascinating project run by Friends of the Earth and the History and Policy network to bring historians of past campaigns and modern day campaigners together to discuss the lessons of history. The resulting 174 page book is now out and I highly recommend it. The discussion was part of FoE’s Big Ideas

How can the international community help put women at the heart of bringing peace to South Sudan?

November 9, 2016
Oxfam’s Shaheen Chughtai reports back from a recent conversation at the UN Once in a while, the shroud of coded, diplomatic language that envelops discussions at the United Nations Security Council is ripped away by reality. On 25th October, it was the words of a women’s rights activist from conflict-ridden South Sudan, Rita Lopidia, which gripped the chamber. “I meet

Climate Change: Meeting sea level rise by raising the land

November 8, 2016
  As the COP 22 meeting on climate change gets under way in Marrakech, Joseph Hanlon, Manoj Roy and David Hulme introduce their new book on climate change and Bangladesh Community groups in coastal Bangladesh have shown that the land can be raised to match sea level rise. Their success has been hard fought, initially contested by aid agencies, engineers

Links I Liked

November 7, 2016
Waiting for stuff is such a pain isn’t it? From the Boston Globe Irresistible listicle, especially the nuclear powered vacuum cleaners: 10 predictions for the future that got it wildly wrong Smoking kills more people in low- and middle-income countries than TB, malaria and AIDS combined. Taxing tobacco is the obvious and best solution, so why doesn’t it happen? COP22

Why systems thinking changes everything for activists and reformers

November 4, 2016
This week, the Guardian ran a very nicely edited ‘long read’ extract from How Change Happens covering some of the book’s central arguments, under the title Radical Thinking Reveals the Secrets of Making Change Happen. Here it is: Political and economic earthquakes are often sudden and unforeseeable, despite the false pundits who pop up later to claim they predicted them

Is Good Advocacy a Science or an Art (or just luck), and how can we sharpen it?

November 3, 2016
Helen Tilley ( , is a Research Fellow, Josephine Tsui ( a Research Officer, and Hannah Caddick ( a Communications Officer, in the Research and Policy in Development Programme at the Overseas Development Institute. ‘There is an art to science, and a science in art; the two are not enemies, but different aspects of the whole.’ — Issac Asimov In

Why aren’t ‘Diaries of the Poor’ a standard research tool?

November 2, 2016
I’ve been having lots of buzzy conversations about diaries recently. Not my own (haven’t done that since I was a teenager), but diaries as a research method. The initial idea came from one of my all-time favourite bits of bottom-up research, the book Portfolios of the Poor. Here are the relevant paras from my review: ‘A financial fly-on-the-wall account of