systems thinking

Doing Development Differently: a great discussion on Adaptive Management (no, really)

Duncan Green - November 4, 2015

Went to a fascinating workshop last week on ‘adaptive management’ hosted and designed by USAID as part of their work on Knowledge, Information and Data (see final para for more links) and facilitated by Ben Ramalingam, who has just started at IDS as their new digital, technology and innovation czar. A whole load of participants are going to write posts for this blog, which will go up …

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How to use ‘Systems Thinking’ in practice: good new guide

Duncan Green - October 20, 2015

This was posted by John Chettleborough on Oxfam’s Policy and Practice blog today, and I really liked it, so here you are Ever wondered what connects Buddhism, climate change, improved governance and a flexible approach to decision making? If so….read on. Currently if you work in the international development sector it is difficult to escape from the term “systems thinking”. It is talked about as …

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Embracing Complexity – a good new book on systems thinking (and action)

Duncan Green - August 26, 2015

Jean Boulton is a regular both here on the blog and in the corridors of Oxfam. She’s a onetime theoretical physicist turned consultant, and one of her passions is complexity and systems thinking, and their implications for how organizations, including development agencies, go about their work. Now she’s teamed up with fellow lapsed physicist Peter Allen, and Cliff Bowman (a ‘theorist and practitioner of strategy’, …

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How can big aid organizations become Fit for the Future? Summary of my new paper

Duncan Green - June 17, 2015

My navel-gazing paper on the future of INGOs and other big aid beasts came out last week. Here’s a summary I wrote for the Guardian. Thanks to all those who fed in on earlier drafts. Oxfam’s Deputy CEO Penny Lawrence gives a semi-official response. A miasma of existential doubt seems to hang over large chunks of the aid industry, even here in the UK, where …

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If Complexity was a person, she would be a Socialist. Jean Boulton on the politics of systems thinking.

Duncan Green - May 15, 2015

Jean Boulton (physicist, management consultant and social scientist, right) responds to Owen Barder’s Wednesday post on thinking of development as a property of a complex adaptive system. I’d like to go a bit further than Owen on the implications of complexity for how we understand power and politics. It is generally the case that the powerful get more powerful and the big get bigger. We …

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What has cancer taught me about the links between medicine and development? Guest post by Chris Roche

Duncan Green - April 15, 2015

My friend and How Change Happens co-conspirator Chris Roche (@croche123) has had a rough year, but has used it to reach some interesting insights into the links between medicine and development. In July last year I was diagnosed with a pancreatic neuro-endocrine tumour. This is a rare disease and thankfully usually not as lethal as exocrine pancreatic cancer. Some people getting this news decide to …

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Fit for the Future? Systems thinking and the role of International NGOs – draft paper for your comments

Duncan Green - April 14, 2015

I’m committing potential hara-kiri by giving a DFID staff talk on the future of INGOs tomorrow lunchtime (Wednesday) – if you’re an FP2P reader in DFID, do please come along. Here’s the background and a call for comments on the draft paper I’m presenting: (INGO futures, Green v5 April 2015 (edited)). Just before Christmas, Oxfam boss Mark Goldring collared me in the canteen and off the …

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What are the implications of ‘doing development differently’ for NGO Campaigns and Advocacy?

Duncan Green - February 10, 2015

I’ve been having fun recently taking some of the ideas around ‘Doing Development Differently’ and applying them to INGOs, building on the post I wrote last year on ‘You can’t take a supertanker white-water rafting’. The Exam Question is: Given complexity, systems thinking and the failure of top down approaches, what future, if any, is there for International NGOs? Paper and blog forthcoming – bet …

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Can complex systems thinking provide useful tools for aid workers? Draft paper on some DFID pilot experiments, for your comments

Duncan Green - May 7, 2014

Ben Ramalingam, who wrote last year’s big book on complexity and aid (Aid on the Edge of Chaos) has been doing some interesting work with DFID and wants comment on his draft paper (with Miguel Laric and John Primrose) summarizing the project. The draft is here BestPracticetoBestFitWorkingPaper_DraftforComments_May2014 (just comment on this post, and the authors will read and reply where necessary, and make sure any non-bonkers …

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How can complexity/systems thinking help small island states?

Duncan Green - May 1, 2014

‘It’s a big year for small islands’ announced the speaker before me, who revelled in the title ‘The Honourable Lord Tu’ivakano, Prime Minister, Kingdom of Tonga’ (right). When my turn came, how should I refer to him? (I’m hopeless at this kind of thing, must come from going to a state school.) His Lordship? Your Honourableness? ‘Yo Tu’ivakano’ (a la George Bush)? In the end, …

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