NGOs

Being bold: what Oxfam’s campaign on Yemen can teach us all about change

Duncan Green - February 21, 2017

In recent years, one of the things that has made me really proud to work for Oxfam has been its stand on Yemen. Here, Maya Mailer (@mayamailer) distils the lessons from our campaign. How do you convince people to care about a place no one has heard of? When we first started our campaign on Yemen almost two years ago, it wasn’t simply a ‘forgotten …

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How Change Happens (or doesn’t) in the Humanitarian System

Duncan Green - February 15, 2017

I’ve been in Stockholm this week at the invitation of ALNAP, the Active Learning Network for Accountability and Performance in Humanitarian Action, which has been holding its annual meeting on the banks of a frozen Swedish river. I was asked to comment on the background paper for the meeting, Changing Humanitarian Action?, by ALNAP’s Paul Knox-Clarke.  I read the paper on the flight over (great …

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A philanthropist using systems thinking to build peace

Duncan Green - February 10, 2017

Steve Killelea is an intriguing man, an Aussie software millionaire who, in the words of his bio ‘decided to dedicate most of his time and fortune to sustainable development and peace’.  Think a more weather-beaten Bill Gates. He also (full disclosure) bought me a very nice lunch last week. In pursuit of this aim he set up the Institute for Economics and Peace in 2007. …

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What determines whether/how an organization can learn? Interesting discussion at DFID.

Duncan Green - February 9, 2017

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 …

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Watching Oxfam morph into an interdependent networked system

Duncan Green - February 1, 2017

While I’ve been ivory towering on the book for the last couple of years, Oxfam has been going through a wrenching internal reform (wait, don’t click – this gets interesting, honest!). Known as Oxfam 2020, 18 different Oxfam affiliates are slowly and painfully sorting out a single operating system and pushing power down to countries and a new swathe of southern affiliates, all while retaining …

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Handy NGO Guide to Social Network Analysis

Duncan Green - January 26, 2017

Social Network Analysis has been cropping up a bit in my mental in-tray. First there was my Christmas reading – Social Physics, by Alex Pentland. Then came yesterday’s post from some networkers within Oxfam. So here are some additional thoughts, based on a great guide to SNA by the International Rescue Committee. Complexity and Systems Thinking seems to push people into two divergent sets of conclusions. …

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What makes Networks tick? Learning from (a lot of) experience

Duncan Green - January 25, 2017

  When are networks the right response to a development challenge (as opposed to a monumental talking shop – more hot air than action)? Oxfamers Andrew Wells-Dang, Stéphanie de Chassy, Benoit Trudel, Jan Bouwman and Jacky Repila discuss: Working with and as a part of networks is an inescapable part of today’s interconnected world – and increasingly of Oxfam’s programming and influencing. But what kinds …

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Local governance and resilience – what lasts after the project ends?

Duncan Green - January 24, 2017

Jane Lonsdale reflects on the lessons from an ‘effectiveness review’ of a Myanmar project 18 months after it ended. For the nerds among you, an accompanying post on the nuts and bolts of the effectiveness review has just gone up on the ‘real geek’ blog We have just finished a review of Oxfam’s work in Myanmar’s central Dry Zone. This was designed some 6 years …

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5 Straws to Clutch/Reasons to be Cheerful on US presidential inauguration day

Duncan Green - January 20, 2017

Someone asked me to try and write something positive today, so here goes. As President Obama told his daughters, the only thing that’s the end of the world is the end of the world. This ain’t it. So (channelling Ian Dury), here are some reasons to be cheerful: The US is deeply federal: to a Brit, it’s striking how many of the big decisions are …

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Why Davos should be talking about Disability

Duncan Green - January 19, 2017

In what I think had better be the last blog for Davos, Jodie Thorpe, IDS and Yogesh Ghore, Coady International Institute present important new research on a rising issue on the development agenda Can markets include and benefit some of the most marginalized people on earth, such as persons with disabilities? The leaders of government, business and third sector organizations gathered in Davos this week should …

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