Registration for the first PDIA online course is closed

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Would you like a how-to guide to make your organization more effective?

We are delighted to announce PDIA: Building Capability by Delivering Results, a free two-part experiential online course that will provide you with the necessary frameworks and tools that you need to do PDIA (Problem Driven Iterative Adaptation) in your context. Watch the course preview video below.

The first part will be offered from November 8-December 20, 2015 and will include video lectures, reading lists, assignments, reflection exercises as well as peer interaction. We estimate that the effort required will be between 3-5 hours a week. While this course is online, we hope that people in countries and organizations will take this course together as a team. We will issue certificates to those who complete the course. Only those who complete Part I will be eligible to take Part II of the course which will be offered in early 2016. Enrollment is limited. If you are interested, please register here.


In many developing countries the capability of the state to implement its policies and programs is a key constraint to improving human development. Many reform initiatives fail to achieve sustained improvements in performance because organizations pretend to reform by changing what policies and organizational structures look like rather than what they actually do. Donor countries provide scripts for ‘best practice’ and the recipient countries ‘act’ to comply, putting on the appearance of change without changing. Too often, they are asked to perform tasks that are too complex and too burdensome, thus hindering the emergence of domestic, organically evolved, functional organizations. These countries end up stuck in a capability trap.

To escape this trap, we propose an alternative approach—Problem Driven Iterative Adaptation (PDIA)—as a way to build real state capability. The PDIA approach argues that we don’t need more “experts” selling “best practice” solutions in the name of efficiency and the adoption of global standards; what we need instead are organizations that generate, test and refine context-specific solutions in response to locally nominated and prioritized problems; we need systems that tolerate (even encourage) failure as the necessary price of success. PDIA is about building capability through the process of solving problems. PDIA emphasizes solving, not solutions.


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