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How to design research to make sure that Humanitarian Innovation gets scaled up?

October 13, 2021
Building on Elrha’s recent learning paper about the role of evidence in scaling humanitarian innovations, Abigail Taylor outlines how Make Music Matter has used evidence to enable adoption of its innovative Healing in Harmony programme… Proving that a new idea or approach works is, sadly, not enough to ensure it is widely picked up. Innovators must follow up research activities
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How does Innovation happen in Systems?

July 29, 2021
I approached Building Better Systems: A Green Paper on System Innovation, by Charles Leadbeater and Jennie Winhall, with a fair degree of initial scepticism – these kinds of papers tend to involve a lot of hand waving, and not many specifics. But I warmed to it as I read. First, some nice crunchy case studies on things like young adults

What might a 100% experimental Oxfam Country Programme look like?

November 22, 2018
Oxfam GB’s new boss, Danny Sriskandarajah, starts in the New Year, but is already talking to people inside and outside the organization about what a ‘Nextfam’ could look like. Here’s some thoughts from a chat with him and David Bonbright earlier this week. The problem: Experiments and innovation at the project level seldom spread beyond the bounds of the project.

Blockchain for Development: A Handy Bluffers’ Guide

May 9, 2017
Top tip: if you’re in a meeting discussing anything to do with finance, at some point look wise and say ‘you do realize, blockchain is likely to change everything.’ Of course, there is always a terrifying chance that someone will ask what you actually mean. Worry not, because IDS has produced a handy bluffer’s guide to help you respond. Blockchain

If we want to innovate, we need to disrupt our relationships and embrace tension

March 21, 2017
Guest post from Caroline Cassidy, Communications Manager in ODI’s Research and Policy in Development team Henry Ford famously said ‘if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.’ The same can be said for our relationships. When it comes to getting evidence into policy no one can dispute that to have any success you

How do we encourage innovation in markets? What can systems thinking add?

February 22, 2017
Update: check out the comments on this post – v interesting Earlier this month I spent a fun 3 days at a seminar discussing Market Systems Innovation. No really. I discovered a community of very smart people working on markets, who seem to be on a similar journey to the people working on governance and institutions, who I have spent

Beer and Tacos with Samir Doshi from USAID

October 5, 2016
  Had a fun dinner in Brixton market last week with Samir Doshi, a Senior Scientist at USAID’s U.S. Global Development Lab, which describes itself as “an innovation hub that takes smart risks to test new ideas and partner within the Agency and with other actors to harness the power of innovative tools and approaches that accelerate development impact.” This

How can rethinking innovation achieve Technology Justice?

July 22, 2016
Amber Meikle of Practical Action, introduces ‘Rethink, Retool, Reboot Technology as if people and planet mattered’, a new book on a massively neglected topic The history of mankind’s development has long featured technology – from early cultivation techniques, fire, and the wheel, all the way to 3D printing and nanotechnology. Today, technology underpins all aspects of everyday life: from how

Where have we got to on adaptive learning, thinking and working politically, doing development differently etc? Getting beyond the People’s Front of Judea

June 9, 2016
Props to Dave Algoso (left) and Alan Hudson at Global Integrity for making the effort to compare and contrast 9 different initiatives that are all heading in roughly the right direction in reforming aid Aid, development, and governance practitioners increasingly recognize that change happens through iterative processes (trying, learning, adapting the approach taken, and trying again) as opposed to the linear

So what do we really know about innovation in international development? Summary of new book (+ you get to vote)

May 25, 2016
Ben Ramalingam of IDS and Kirsten Bound of Nesta share insights from their new open-access book on innovation for development (download it here). And you get to vote (see end) Innovation is increasingly popular in international development. The last ten years have seen new initiatives, funds, and pilots aplenty. While some of this involves genuinely novel and experimental approaches, we

Is Disruption a good thing? Let’s ask Southern Civil Society leaders for a change.

May 12, 2016
Disruption is cool in the development chattersphere right now, and that may not be a good thing – what if the thing being disrupted is actually useful or valuable? Do you want your marriage/home/body/ cat disrupted? Thought not. Organizations doing good work don’t necessarily have to be innovative (what about practice makes perfect?); good partners don’t have to be new

Why should large aid organizations spin off more start-ups? What kind?

April 14, 2016
Here’s vlog number 3 – they’re turning into kind of lazy exec sums for blog posts. And a chance to study my kitchen…. I’ve been thinking about the idea of Oxfam and other large aid players deliberately ‘spinning off’ start-ups as independent organizations. The idea came up when I was writing ‘Fit for the Future’ last year, on the way