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Are we suffering from obsessive measurement disorder?

August 15, 2019
ODI’s Tiina Pasanen argues that more data doesn’t necessarily mean we make better decisions. It often means just having more data that is not used Do any of these situations sound familiar to you? as an M&E manager, you worry that there’s a crucial aspect of your project that the current logframe doesn’t cover as a programme manager, most of

Why donors ignore the evidence on what works, and transparency and accountability projects are a dead end. David Booth’s Non-Farewell Lecture.

April 27, 2018
ODI is always innovating, and earlier this week organized a non-farewell lecture for one of its big thinkers, David Booth. As far as I could work out, this was a celebration of them stopping paying him (aka ‘retirement’), while he continues to work for them for free as a visiting fellow. Interesting business model. Anyway, for those that don’t know

How might a systems approach change the way aid supports the knowledge sector in Indonesia?

August 9, 2017
For some reason, the summer months seem to involve a lot of cups of tea (and the occasional beer) with interesting people passing through London, often at my second office in Brixton. One of last week’s conversations was with Arnaldo Pellini, who has been working for ODI on a big ‘knowledge sector initiative’ in Indonesia. Five years in, the team

How can a top development thinktank improve its communications?

June 24, 2016
Well it feels like the world just ended, but thought I’d post this anyway. Life goes on and all that. The title to this post was my exam question for a recent discussion with the comms team at ODI. My initial reaction was ‘you’re top of the heap already, relax’, but then I got to thinking about a couple of

What are the key principles behind a theory of change approach? Top new ODI paper.

September 17, 2015
Craig Valters of ODI is consistently incisive on Theories of Change, cutting through the flannel surrounding one of the aid business’ favourite new(ish) fuzzwords to identify what is genuinely significant. His new, crisply written paper is a must read for anyone interested in how change happens, doing development differently, or the results agenda. Some excerpts: ‘The development industry is unbalanced

What kinds of women become leaders, and how can we support them?

May 28, 2015
Some of Oxfam’s most interesting work concerns women’s leadership – how to promote it, what impact it has etc. But what seems a convincing case study to me can be dismissed as an anecdote by a sceptic. For people wanting something more systematic, check out the ODI’s recent ‘Support to women and girls’ leadership: A rapid review of the evidence’,

The best synthesis so far of where we’ve got to on ‘Doing Development Differently’

March 17, 2015
Finally got round to reading the ‘Adapting Development’ the ODI’s latest 54 page synthesis of the theory and practice underpinning the ‘Doing Development Differently’ approach. It’s very good – a good lit review, laced with lots of case studies and good insights – and definitely worth a careful read. Weirdly the bit that jumped out for me was on results

How Change Happens: Great new case studies + analysis on ‘Politically Smart, Locally Led Development’

September 24, 2014
The research star of the show at last week’s Thinking and Working Politically event was a great new ODI paper from David Booth and Sue Unsworth. Politically smart, locally led development seeks to identify the secret sauce behind 7 large and successful aid programmes: a rural livelihoods programme in India; land titling and tax reform in the Philippines; disarmament, demobilization

Complexity 101 – part 2: Getting to the So Whats

November 6, 2013
It’s complexity week on the blog, coinciding with the launch of Aid on the Edge of Chaos today at 5pm UK time (long since full, but being livestreamed). I’m a discussant, and will nick any clever comments for tomorrow’s review of the book. Meanwhile, the ODI’s Harry Jones continues his stocktake on complexity and development Yesterday, I tried to pose

Complexity 101: behind the hype, what do we actually know?

November 5, 2013
Complexity week continues with this excellent stocktake from the ODI’s Harry Jones (who’s got a new guide out on ‘Managing Projects and Programmes in the Face of Complexity‘). Part two tomorrow. Seven years ago John Young, Ben Ramalingam and I decided to begin research on complexity theory and international development.  We felt there was really something of use and interest

Getting to the ‘so whats’: how can donors use political economy analysis to sort out bad governance?

October 30, 2013
Close but no cigar. Just been reading an ODI paper from a few months ago, Making sense of the politics of delivery: our findings so far, by Marta Foresti, Tam O’Neil and Leni Wild. It’s part of the ODI’s excellent stream of work on governance and accountability (see my review of David Booth and Diana Cammack’s book) and repays close study.

Governance for Development in Africa: Solving Collective Action Problems: Review of an important new book

October 23, 2013
The last year or so has been a bit quiet in terms of big new books on development, but now they are piling up on my study floor (my usual filing system) – Angus Deaton, Deepak Nayyar, Ben Ramalingam, Nina Munk etc etc. I will review them as soon as I can (or arm-twist better qualified colleagues to do so).