Simplicity, Accountability and Relationships: Three ways to ensure MEL supports Adaptive Management

July 3, 2018
Chris Roche, a mate and mentor in all things system-y, reflects on what sounds like a Filipino version of our recent Bologna workshop. The week before Duncan was slaving away in Bologna on adaptive management I was attending an Asia Foundation ā€˜practitionersā€™ forumā€™ in Manila.  The focus of the event was on Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning for Adaptive Programming. The
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I’m helping run a summer school on Adaptive Management. In Bologna. Interested?

March 6, 2018
This could be a lot of fun, Iā€™m working with two of the smartest minds in Oxfam: Irene Guijt (head of research) and Claire Hutchings (head of Programme Quality) to design and deliver a one week summer school course on ā€˜Adaptive Management: Ā Working Effectively in the Complexity of International Developmentā€™. Between us we are going to try and really combine
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The World Bankā€™s 2018 World Development Report on Education: a scepticā€™s review

October 18, 2017
Guest post from Prachi Srivastava (@PrachiSrivas), Associate Professor in the area of education and internationalĀ development at the University of Western Ontario. When the World Bank announced that the 2018 World Development Report (WDR) would be on education, I was sceptical. Iā€™m not denying the Bankā€™s research expertise. It devotes substantial money and staff and has a trove of reports that
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What determines whether/how an organization can learn? Interesting discussion at DFID.

February 9, 2017
I was invited along to DFID last week for a discussion on how organizations learn. There was an impressive turnout of senior civil serpents ā€“ the issue has clearly got their attention. Which is great because I came away with the impression that they (and Oxfam for that matter) have a long way to go to really become a ā€˜learning
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Overcoming Premature Evaluation

November 15, 2016
Chris RocheĀ (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
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How do you do ā€˜Adaptive Programmingā€™? Two examples of Practical Experience help with some of the answers

September 13, 2016
Helen DerbyshireĀ (left) of SAVI and Elbereth DonovanĀ (right) of LASER share some thoughts on what all the fuss is about. At a glance the two DFID programmes we work on are very different. SAVI (and its successor programme ECP) is a large scale, long-term initiative which focuses on citizensā€™ engagement in governance in Nigeria. LASER is a modest, shorter-term investment climate
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Learning by un-doing: the magic of immersion

July 28, 2015
Varja Lipovsek of Twaweza, one of my favourite accountability NGOs,Ā reflects on a recent staff immersion in a Ugandan village. Itā€™s a bitĀ too long, but just too nicely written to cut ā€“ sorry! Take a group of people that are used to talking about development while sitting in offices behind computers, going to meetings at ministries, writing reports and worrying about
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Measuring the difficult stuff (empowerment, resilience) and learning from the results; where has Oxfam got to?

December 3, 2014
Iā€™m not generally a big fan of measurement fetishism (too crude, too blind to complexity and systems thinking). When I used to (mis)manage the Oxfam research team and wanted a few thousand quid for some research grant, I had to list numbers of beneficiaries (men and women). As research is a global public good, I always put 3.5bn of each.
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‘How DFID Learns’. Or doesn’t. UK aid watchdog gives it a ‘poor’ (but the rest of us would probably do worse)

April 4, 2014
The UK Department for International Developmentā€™s independent watchdog, the Ā Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI), has a report out today on ā€˜how DFID learnsā€™. Or doesnā€™t. Because the report is critical and gives DFID an overall ā€˜amber-redā€™ assessment, defined as ā€˜programme performs relatively poorly overall against ICAIā€™s criteria for effectiveness and value for money. Significant improvements should be madeā€™. Iā€™m
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How do you measure the difficult stuff (empowerment, resilience) and whether any change is attributable to your role?

December 3, 2013
In one of his grumpier moments, Owen Barder recently branded me as ā€˜anti-dataā€™, which (if you think about it for a minute) would be a bit weird foranyone working in the development sector. The real issue is of course, what kind of data tell you useful things about different kinds of programme, and how you collect them. If people equate
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