innovation

How can rethinking innovation achieve Technology Justice?

Duncan Green - 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 our food is produced and …

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

Duncan Green - 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 assumptions that underpin much of …

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

Duncan Green - 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 have also seen – perhaps …

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

Duncan Green - 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 and funky. Above all, poor …

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

Duncan Green - 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 INGOs need to adapt to …

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ICYMI: This summer’s posts on theories of change, systems thinking and innovation

Duncan Green - October 2, 2015

Still dripfeeding in catch-ups on the most popular posts from June-September, when the blog’s email alert system collapsed and some wasters actually went on holiday. There were some good discussions and lots of traffic on how change happens, which bodes well for future book sales. The most read was actually a 2013 post on Theories of Change, but this one, from Oxfam’s James Whitehead, came a close …

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How do we get better at killing our darlings? Is scale best pursued obliquely? More thoughts on innovation and development

Duncan Green - August 6, 2015

Benjamin Kumpf, Policy Specialist for Innovation at UNDP, responds to guest post by James Whitehead published on 24 June. I found myself nodding to most of James Whitehead’s reflections. Particularly: ”I want to be working with people who are passionate about solving problems at scale rather than magpies obsessed with finding shiny new innovative solutions.” Yet, something seemed to be missing, and something more needed …

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What if the best way to be innovative is not to try?

Duncan Green - June 24, 2015

This guest post comes from Oxfam’s James Whitehead ‘Is it innovative?’ ‘How can we be more innovative?’ When asked, my problem, which is slightly awkward as Oxfam’s Global Innovation Advisor, is that I’m not sure how useful the word ‘innovation’ really is. I’ve just written a research paper on the factors that enable or block innovation in Oxfam and one of the things that comes out …

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Why ‘what’s your endgame?’ is a better question for aid agencies than ‘how do we go to scale?’

Duncan Green - January 22, 2015

Maybe it’s partly an age thing, but a lot of senior people in the aid business seem to obsess about scale. What’s the point of running a few projects, however successful? No, the only worthwhile end is ‘going to scale’, affecting the lives of millions of people, not a few hundred. It’s understandable and laudably ambitious, but it can have some bad side effects: It …

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Risk = ‘to dare’. Why funders need to rethink their attitude to risk if they really want to support innovation

Duncan Green - August 8, 2014

Following on from last week’s piece on the role of Foundations, here’s an excerpt from an excellent piece in the Stanford Social Innovation Review. Although it is aimed at Foundations, spending the income from their endowments, it has important messages for others, including NGOs. ‘Risk stands at the center of an inherent creative tension within the field. Endowments, by definition, are tools for conserving resources, …

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