Tag: complexity

Some highlights from the first 30 book launches for How Change Happens

I’m about six weeks into launching How Change Happens, and am having a great (if knackering) time. Highlights so far include a Kurdish/Dutch guitar combo warming up the crowd in Nijmegen, conversations with an Islamic finance entrepreneur trying to do financial inclusion in South Wales, a great group of women managing a community-run service station […]

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Why systems thinking changes everything for activists and reformers

This week, the Guardian ran a very nicely edited ‘long read’ extract from How Change Happens covering some of the book’s central arguments, under the title Radical Thinking Reveals the Secrets of Making Change Happen. Here it is: Political and economic earthquakes are often sudden and unforeseeable, despite the false pundits who pop up later […]

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Is Good Advocacy a Science or an Art (or just luck), and how can we sharpen it?

Helen Tilley (h.tilley@odi.org) , is a Research Fellow, Josephine Tsui (j.tsui@odi.org) a Research Officer, and Hannah Caddick (h.caddick@odi.org) a Communications Officer, in the Research and Policy in Development Programme at the Overseas Development Institute. ‘There is an art to science, and a science in art; the two are not enemies, but different aspects of the […]

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Which of these three books on complexity and development is right for you? Review/user’s guide

Dave Algoso (@dalgoso ) with a handy guide to what to read for those wondering what all this complexity stuff is about In the last few years, complexity thinking has found its way into general development discourse. Anyone reading this blog or others has likely encountered some of the terminology, even if the technical pieces remain […]

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

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 […]

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

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 […]

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

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 […]

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Current aid design and evaluation favour autocracies. How do we change that?

I loved the new paper from Rachel Kleinfeld, a Senior Associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and asked her to write a post on it What strategy can make a government take up smart development programs, better policing techniques, or tested education initiatives?  RCT and regression-based studies have taught us a great deal about […]

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

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 […]

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Oxfam Big Cheese responds to my paper on whether INGOs are ‘Fit for the Future’

In a spirit of transparency, innovation, etc, we thought it might be interesting to print an actual response from Oxfam’s senior management – this is from Penny Lawrence, Oxfam GB’s Deputy Chief Executive. And what’s Oxfam’s response to Duncan’s challenges?  Well it would be churlish, of course, (if understandable) to ask what experience of actually […]

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

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 […]

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Can aid agencies help systems fix themselves? The implications of complexity for development cooperation

Owen Barder gave a brilliant lecture on complexity and development to my LSE students earlier this year. Afterwards, I asked him to dig deeper into the ‘so whats’ for aid agencies. The result is this elegant essay (a bit long for a blog, but who cares?). I will try and get some responses to his […]

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