Adaptive Management

Should the World Bank become more adaptive by weakening its safeguards?

Duncan Green - September 26, 2017

The World Bank wants to become more agile, to speed up its grant/loan-making, be less bureaucratic, leap on the ‘adaptive management’ bandwagon etc. In its rush to change direction, it hasn’t had too many discussions with NGOs, so I thought I’d raise some of the issues on the blog. Perhaps  the lack of discussion is because the Bank sees NGOs as a potential roadblock to …

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Looks like the NGOs are stepping up on ‘Doing Development Differently’. Good.

Duncan Green - August 4, 2017

For several years I’ve been filling the ‘token NGO’ slot at a series of meetings about ‘doing development differently’ (DDD) and/or ‘thinking and working politically’ – networks largely dominated by official aid donors, academics, thinktanks and management consultants (good overview of all the different initiatives here). Periodically, a range of NGOs appear on the scene, and according to ODI and Care are doing plenty on …

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Thinking and Working Politically: where have we got to?

Duncan Green - June 13, 2017

Spent a day with the TWP crew recently. Chatham House Rules, so no names. Like its close relative and overlapping network, ‘Doing Development Differently’, TWP urges aid organizations to stop trying to impose rigid blueprint/’best practice’ approaches, paying far more attention to issues of power, politics and local context. The driving force has mainly been staff in bilateral and multilateral aid donors, researchers from universities …

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The imaginary advocate, the benefits of Command and Control, and why I’m just channelling Hayek

Duncan Green - June 2, 2017

Continuing the download from the recent LSE-ODI workshop on ‘new experimentalism’ was this thought-provoking description by David Kennedy of the ‘imaginary advocate’, the assumed individual behind How Change Happens and, by extension, a lot of NGO advocacy. Might be a very interesting addition to the endless awaydays, strategic planning processes etc to ask people to try and spell out the imaginary subjects of their own …

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Draft Paper on Adaptive Management in Oxfam – all comments welcome

Duncan Green - May 23, 2017

With a few important exceptions, large international NGOs have been pretty absent from the global conversation about ‘Doing Development Differently’, but are they doing it anyway and just skipping the meetings? To find out, a group of LSE Masters Students analysed a bunch of case studies of Oxfam programmes claiming to pursue ‘adaptive management’ approaches. Their report is so interesting that we want to publish …

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How far has DFID got in implementing ‘Doing Development Differently’ ideas on the ground?

Duncan Green - April 27, 2017

I’ve been banging on about the ‘Doing Development Differently’ movement for a few years now. Initially driven by big bilateral donors frustrated with the failure rate of old school project approaches, especially in trying to ‘build states’ and reform governments , DDD advocates ‘politically smart and locally led’ approaches, avoiding cookie cutter ‘best practice’, while staying sufficiently aware and adaptive to learn and tweak your …

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How do we choose the most promising theory of change? Building on the context-intervention 2×2

Duncan Green - December 9, 2016

One of the slides from my standard HCH presentation that resonated most during the many conversations and book launches in the US was the 2×2 on which kinds of interventions are compatible with different contexts. I first blogged about this a year ago, when the 2×2 emerged during a workshop of aid wonks, but the recent discussions have added some nice extra ideas to what …

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Adaptive Management looks like it’s here to stay. Here’s why that matters.

Duncan Green - December 8, 2016

The past two weeks in Washington, New York and Boston have been intense, leaving lots of unpacking for the blog. Let’s start with the numerous discussions on ‘adaptive management’ (AM), which seems to where the big aid agencies have found a point of entry into the whole ‘Doing Development Differently’ debate. I spent a day with USAID and came away with a sense that AM …

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Where has the Doing Development Differently movement got to, two years on?

Duncan Green - November 22, 2016

The DDD crew reassembled in London last week, two years on from the Harvard meeting that really got the ball rolling. Unfortunately I could only attend the first session and the next day’s post mortem, so other participants, please feel free to add your own impressions/put me right. DDD is evolving fast into something approaching a big tent movement. At its core are principles of iteration, …

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Overcoming Premature Evaluation

Duncan Green - November 15, 2016

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 …

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