What can Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings and the Matrix teach us about how change happens?

Duncan Green - December 14, 2016

Chatting to academics in the US last week, we swapped notes on the merits of using shared cultural references to convey some of the key ideas around how change happens. They act as a short cut, allowing subtle, nuanced ideas to be discussed on the basis of a large pool of common knowledge. You need to avoid the pitfalls of cultural imperialism, of course (so …

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On theories of change, what are the differences between playing offence and defence?

Duncan Green - December 13, 2016

Unsurprisingly, in this year of Brexit and US elections, I’ve been thinking about how to stop bad stuff happening. While they are doubtless desperately looking for silver linings in a year of defeats, progressive movements are likely to spend a good part of the next few years defending good things from political assault. So what is the same/different about defence and offence when it comes …

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Links I Liked

Duncan Green - December 12, 2016

Social Wealth Funds, publicly owned, that pursue social good & reduce (rather than exacerbate) inequality. A smart proposal from Stewart Lansley Talking of wealth, you can always rely on the FT magazine’s ‘How to Spend It’ column to answer the really pressing questions of the age: ‘when your superyacht is too small, you are no longer expected to buy a bigger one. Instead, you just …

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How do we choose the most promising theory of change? Building on the context-intervention 2×2

Duncan Green - December 9, 2016

One of the slides from my standard HCH presentation that resonated most during the many conversations and book launches in the US was the 2×2 on which kinds of interventions are compatible with different contexts. I first blogged about this a year ago, when the 2×2 emerged during a workshop of aid wonks, but the recent discussions have added some nice extra ideas to what …

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Adaptive Management looks like it’s here to stay. Here’s why that matters.

Duncan Green - December 8, 2016

The past two weeks in Washington, New York and Boston have been intense, leaving lots of unpacking for the blog. Let’s start with the numerous discussions on ‘adaptive management’ (AM), which seems to where the big aid agencies have found a point of entry into the whole ‘Doing Development Differently’ debate. I spent a day with USAID and came away with a sense that AM …

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A lesson on power and the abstruse (or a love-peeve relationship Part 2)

Duncan Green - December 7, 2016

Duly provoked by yesterday’s assault on IDS’ use of language, John Gaventa responds with a really nice story/rebuttal As ever, we are delighted to see Duncan Green’s interesting and incisive blog on the new IDS Bulletin on Power, Poverty and Inequality. In talking about what he calls his ‘love – peeve’ relationship with IDS, Duncan raises important questions of language in how we discuss power, …

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Power, Poverty and Inequality: a ‘love-peeve’ new IDS bulletin

Duncan Green - December 6, 2016

I have something of a love-hate relationship with the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) in Brighton, or more accurately, a love-peeve. I love the topics, the commitment to bottom-up approaches, and the intellectual leadership IDS has shown over the years on a whole range of issues dear to my heart. The peeve stems from its preference for abstruse language and reluctance to commit to the …

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Links I Liked

Duncan Green - December 5, 2016

Despite being on the road in US flogging books, a couple of things caught my bleary jet-lagged eye. Delighted that How Change Happens makes it to the top of ‘Thoughtful Campaigner’s’ Xmas book recommendations for development wonks. Whole list is worth a look. Lots of stuff on aid Characteristically contrarian MSF critique of the localization agenda in humanitarian response. Does ‘Political correctness’ gloss over the …

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Doing Data Differently: Lessons from the Results Data Initiative

Duncan Green - December 2, 2016

Guest post from Dustin Homer, Director of Engagement and Partnerships at Development Gateway Development folks see magical possibilities for data-driven decision-making. We want data and evidence to improve our work—to help us reach marginalized people, allocate budgets effectively, and see which activities work the best. And it’s not all buzz; we’re getting serious about investing real resources into this development data revolution. So here’s the …

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Are we heading for another debt crisis? If so, what should we be doing?

Duncan Green - December 1, 2016

Just when you thought life couldn’t get more retro (Leonard Cohen on the radio, post-Brexit trade negotiations, impending nuclear war), here comes another debt crisis. Probably. Had a good briefing from some key wonks in Development Finance International and the Jubilee Debt Campaign, two small but vital watchdogs that play a vital role in maintaining capacity on important issues when they drop down the policy …

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