how change happens

Loneliness, Love, Anger and Activism

Duncan Green - June 22, 2017

Spent a morning at the Ashridge Business School Masters in Sustainability and Responsibility last week. The School is extraordinary – a Hogwarts-esque stately home full of statues and vaulted ceilings, formerly Henry VIII’s crib, set in a country park dotted with croquet lawns and mighty oaks. The conversation was also pretty good – 15 Masters students from every continent/walk of life. Only a couple of …

Continue reading

Can Oxfam do the Doughnut? A conversation with Kate Raworth

Duncan Green - June 21, 2017

Kate Raworth came in last week to present her new book, Doughnut Economics (see my earlier review here or Simon Maxwell’s thoughtful summary/critique) and discuss its implications for Oxfam. After writing the initial DE paper while still at Oxfam back in 2012, Kate left to turn it into a book, so there was a definite air of the prodigal daughter returns. Given that I’ve already reviewed …

Continue reading

Thinking and Working Politically: where have we got to?

Duncan Green - June 13, 2017

Spent a day with the TWP crew recently. Chatham House Rules, so no names. Like its close relative and overlapping network, ‘Doing Development Differently’, TWP urges aid organizations to stop trying to impose rigid blueprint/’best practice’ approaches, paying far more attention to issues of power, politics and local context. The driving force has mainly been staff in bilateral and multilateral aid donors, researchers from universities …

Continue reading

The case against optimism: A Harvard Law Prof critiques How Change Happens

Duncan Green - June 1, 2017

Last week I had the ‘on the psychotherapist’s couch’ experience of having the assumptions behind How Change Happens put under the microscope by two very big brains – Harvard’s David Kennedy and LSE’s Stephen Humphreys. This was part of a joint LSE/ODI seminar on ‘new experimentalism’ (which seems to be the legal studies equivalent of Adaptive Management).  I thought their critiques were brilliant (and lyrical …

Continue reading

‘I don’t need a Plan, I need a better Radar’ – how can we rethink Strategic Planning?

Duncan Green - May 26, 2017

I was in Washington this week helping the International Budget Partnership think about its future direction. There’s a certain rhythm to these exercises – some research on external trends, consultation with partners and staff, maybe bring in some outside facilitators, then sit down and say ‘so what should we be doing differently?’ These days, there is often an initial session on complexity and systems thinking, but …

Continue reading

Street Spirit, an anthology of protest that both moved me to tears and really bugged me

Duncan Green - May 19, 2017

Street Spirit: the Power of Protest and Mischief, by Steve Crawshaw is a book that left me deeply confused. As I read it on a recent train ride, I experienced an alarming level of cognitive dissonance. The uplifting stories of resistance, courage, uprising, revolution etc moved me to tears (something I can best describe as ‘political crying’ – awkward in public places). At the same …

Continue reading

Why election politics don’t work as well for the environment as they do for international development

Duncan Green - May 11, 2017

Guest post from Matthew Spencer, who crossed over from the environment sector recently to become Oxfam’s Director of Campaigns and Policy  Before the end of the first week of the UK election campaign, to widespread surprise, Theresa May agreed to the development sector’s main demand to maintain our 0.7% overseas aid commitment. In contrast, the following week the government had to be forced to publish …

Continue reading

Social Accountability from the Trenches: 6 Critical Reflections

Duncan Green - May 3, 2017

Guest post by Gopa Kumar Thampi of The Asia Foundation There is a clearly a surge in social accountability initiatives across the globe today. From informal expressions at the grassroots to entrenched voices in corridors of power, the social accountability multiverse has become stronger and diverse. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that we are indeed witnessing the rise of an ‘audit society’ that animates …

Continue reading

Pragmatism and its discontents: Brian Levy’s brilliant review essay on How Change Happens

Duncan Green - April 26, 2017

Brian Levy, governance guru and author of Working with the Grain, recently published this magisterial essay on his blog. Nominally a review of How Change Happens (chuffed, naturally), it goes way beyond to provide a powerful critique of the aid/development/progressive consensus in light of the events of the last year. Enjoy. At times in the last few years”, writes Duncan Green in his recent book How Change Happens,  “it has …

Continue reading

20th Century policies may not be enough for 21st Century digital disruption

Duncan Green - March 31, 2017

It’s often a good sign when you rock up at a conference and hardly know anyone there. That was my experience at a recent, rather grandiosely-named, ‘Digital Development Summit’, hosted by IDS, Nesta and the Web Foundation, which clearly got people’s attention – the places were fully booked within a day of going live. Participants were diverse: developing country ministers, donor officials, tech company execs, …

Continue reading
Translate »