Tag: complexity

Podcast: How China Escaped the Poverty Trap, with Yuen Yuen Ang

Finally managed to persuade Yuen Yuen Ang, author of one of my favourite books from last year (reviewed here and discussion of bicultural authors like Yuen Yuen here), to come to LSE, where she gave a barnstorming lecture on the book and its wider implications. The previous evening I managed to catch up with her […]

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The Project Cycle in Complex Systems – cartoon version

Jo Rowlands spotted this gem in a recent Intrac Newsletter. It’s drawn by Bill Crooks, based on an original concept by Nigel Simister.

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My (current) default suggestions when asked about almost anything to do with ‘strategy’

I realised recently that I have a fairly standard playlist of topics I bang on about to people during the frequent ‘blue sky’ (well, the initials are BS, anyway) sessions after someone phones up and says something like ‘can I pick your brains as part of our strategy refresh?’ So I thought, if I am […]

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The Unvarnished Project Cycle

Continuing the most-read FP2P posts from 2017, in reverse order. Here’s the runner up. Click on the original to see the comments. This is genius from Lisa McNally – feel free to suggest further improvements And I guess this is the exec sum, although it’s actually a very optimistic version, in that ‘what happened’ ends up […]

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Achilles v Ulysses and Complexity, according to the OECD

Just been browsing a new OECD book on what complexity and systems thinking mean for policy-making. It consists of ‘a compilation of contributions from a series of seminars and workshops on complexity issues over the past two years. It reflects the combined wisdom and perspectives of an internal and external network of researchers, academics and policymakers.’ […]

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Complexity v Simplicity: the challenge for Campaigners and Reformers

Had a few thought-provoking conversations on this last week. I increasingly see most problems (social, political, economic) as complex, i.e. arising from multiple causes in interconnected systems, often highly dependent on the specific context and history of any given place/population. My campaigner friends generally hate such talk, because their gut feeling is that it makes […]

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The Unvarnished Project Cycle

This is genius from Lisa McNally – feel free to suggest further improvements                     And I guess this is the exec sum, although it’s actually a very optimistic version, in that ‘what happened’ ends up roughly in the same place as the planned version, in the top […]

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What does Systems Thinking tell us about how INGOs and Academics can work together better?

Yesterday, I wrote about the obstacles to NGO-academic collaboration. In this second of three posts on the interface between practitioners and researchers, I look at the implications of systems thinking. Some of the problems that arise in the academic–INGO interface stem from overly linear approaches to what is in effect an ideas and knowledge ecosystem. In such […]

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

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 […]

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