I was invited along to DFID last week for a discussion on how organizations learn. There was an impressive turnout of senior civil serpents – 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 ‘learning organization’. So please make allowances …Continue reading
Chris Roche (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 real time feedback loops. This …Continue reading
How do you do ‘Adaptive Programming’? Two examples of Practical Experience help with some of the answers
Helen Derbyshire (left) of SAVI and Elbereth Donovan (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 citizens’ engagement in governance in Nigeria. LASER is a modest, shorter-term investment climate reform programme operating in eight …Continue reading
Varja Lipovsek of Twaweza, one of my favourite accountability NGOs, reflects on a recent staff immersion in a Ugandan village. It’s a bit too long, but just too nicely written to cut – 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 indicators, and give each some …Continue reading
Measuring the difficult stuff (empowerment, resilience) and learning from the results; where has Oxfam got to?
I’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. No-one ever queried it. But …Continue reading
‘How DFID Learns’. Or doesn’t. UK aid watchdog gives it a ‘poor’ (but the rest of us would probably do worse)
The UK Department for International Development’s independent watchdog, the Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI), has a report out today on ‘how DFID learns’. Or doesn’t. Because the report is critical and gives DFID an overall ‘amber-red’ assessment, defined as ‘programme performs relatively poorly overall against ICAI’s criteria for effectiveness and value for money. Significant improvements should be made’. I’m not gloating here – in …Continue reading
How do you measure the difficult stuff (empowerment, resilience) and whether any change is attributable to your role?
In one of his grumpier moments, Owen Barder recently branded me as ‘anti-data’, 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 ‘data’ solely with ‘numbers’, then …Continue reading