Topic: NGOs

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

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 […]

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A philanthropist using systems thinking to build peace

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 […]

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

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 […]

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Watching Oxfam morph into an interdependent networked system

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 […]

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Handy NGO Guide to Social Network Analysis

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 […]

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

  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 – […]

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

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 […]

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

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 […]

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Why Davos should be talking about Disability

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 […]

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8 men now own the same as the poorest half of the world: the Davos killer fact just got more deadly

It’s Davos this week, which means it’s time for Oxfam’s latest global ‘killer fact’ on extreme inequality. Since our first calculation in 2014, these have helped get inequality onto the agenda of the global leaders assembled in Switzerland. This year, the grabber of any headlines not devoted to the US presidential inauguration on Friday is […]

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Preaching to the Converted and the Path to Unlearning: this week’s random conversations

Had some interesting if random discussions this week – I work from home a lot, and then get far too excited when I actually end up in a room with interesting people.  Two thoughts (among many) seem worth capturing: Preaching to the converted: This is something we’re not supposed to do – waste of time […]

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A 3-fold theory of social change (and some great quotes on complexity, ambiguity and dreaming)

Sometimes a paper is worth blogging about just for the quotes. Here are the best from a 2016 update of Doug Reeler’s ‘A Three-Fold Theory of Social Change’: “I would not give a fig for the simplicity on this side of complexity. But I would give my life for the simplicity on the other side.” […]

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