Topic: how change happens

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(Re)making the case for adaptive management

June 9, 2022
Following yesterday’s reflection on the MEL of working in complex systems, Tom Aston provides a great overview of what to read on adaptive management. It’s a long one, so I’ve split it into two – second installment tomorrow. Christian Aid Ireland’s recent publication The Difference Learning Makes by Stephen Gray and Andy Carl made a bit of a splash. The study found that Christian

Rethinking monitoring, evaluation and learning in complex systems

June 8, 2022
Two interesting recent posts on Adaptive Management, complexity etc, which the authors have kindly allowed me to repost here. First up is Søren Vester Haldrup, from UNDP’s Strategic Innovation Unit, wrestling with the issue of measurement and learning. Original post here. Tomorrow Tom Aston provides a great overview of where we’ve got to on adaptive management. Two years ago, we launched a

Why mothers are taking the fight for climate action to Lloyd’s of London

May 26, 2022
Guest post by Exfamer Maya Mailer In torrential rain, I clutched my 3 year-old daughter’s little hand. I was outside Lloyd’s of London, one of the world’s biggest insurers of fossil fuels, with a group of parents, toddlers and a giant paper mache oil drum filled with dying flowers. It was almost Father’s Day 2021. We chanted and sang, and

Billionaires made more in the 24 months of the pandemic than they did in 23 years. Oxfam on Davos

May 25, 2022
Max Lawson on Oxfam’s latest Davos broadside and his worries that his salary is about to get cut We are living through extraordinary times. Extraordinarily bad for the vast majority of humanity.  Extraordinarily good if you are one of the richest people in the world. Normally they meet in January at Davos, but that face-to-face meeting was postponed, due to

An important new book on technology, power and development

May 24, 2022
Patching Development: Information Politics and Social Change in India by Rajesh Veeraraghavan is a wonderful and important book, a deep dive into the world’s largest social protection programme – India’s NREGA scheme – to explore the interaction between state reformers and citizen activists, as they work together, or sometimes against each other, to overcome the local politics of caste, capture,

How do we identify, support and/or build Champions in Development?

May 12, 2022
Nothing says ‘this needs a blog’ more than an over-long executive summary…. So here’s a summary and a few thoughts on ITAD’s report for the Gates Foundation on Champions: How to identify, support, and evaluate advocates for social change (full report 134 pages, Exec Sum 11 pages). I liked this because the aid sector is not always very thoughtful on

How Should Academics talk to Decision-Makers? Some Interesting New Research

May 11, 2022
I’m not a great fan of post-growth/degrowth debates – not enough emphasis on how to actually change policy for my liking (compared to the ‘I’m right, the planet is frying, why won’t you listen!’ school of advocacy). But a new paper by the Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Prosperity caught my eye because it explores precisely that interface between

Theories of Change, the muddy middle, and what to do about assumptions

May 10, 2022
Spent a happy 90 minutes last week connecting with a bunch of Oxfam campaigners taking part in its excellent Campaigns and Advocacy Leadership Programme. They had asked to discuss something which already feels a bit last decade – Theories of Change (ToCs). My random thoughts (powerpoint below) were cautiously worded, because I have a growing fear that in becoming a

What did I learn from trying to teach 50 senior aid people about influencing?

May 6, 2022
Ah the joys of the Chatham House rule – just got back from the second of our two pilot sessions on our new course on influencing, for senior UN, INGO and other leaders in countries from Turkmenistan to Zambia. Thanks to the CHR, I can only use their words if I don’t quote name, institution or where they happened. So

Political Gambles on Development

May 5, 2022
Stefan Dercon introduces his new book, published today in the UK (review to follow) I am starting to appreciate why historians rarely study contemporary history. Interpreting the present is always hard. I have felt this weight in my two core activities over the last two years: providing advice on global affairs and development issues pertaining to development to a politician,

How do NGO staff and partners experience Adaptive Programming? Some impressive (and positive) new research

April 27, 2022
Still trying to recover from my minor dark night of the soul (more like a dark evening, really) on Adaptive Management, I was heartened by a new study from Christian Aid Ireland (CAI). The Difference Learning Makes: Factors that enable or inhibit adaptive programming is excellent,: well-written, encouraging, and probably warrants several posts. But attention spans being what they are,

How do new Aid Initiatives pan out on the ground? A study of 4 new USAID approaches

April 22, 2022
Depressed by the zombification of Britain’s official aid system, I am looking further afield for inspiration/new thinking and came across this recent paper on a series of innovations at USAID. Larry Garber, Gretchen King and Karen Hirschfeld looked at 4 initiatives: co-creation; engaging new and non-traditional actors via the New Partnerships Initiative (NPI); convening power; and integrated programming (apologies for