New Book: Navigation by Judgment

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We hosted Dan Honig a few weeks ago to discuss his new book published by Oxford University Press. Here are some highlights.

When Dan embarked on his journey, he had four predictions:

  1. Most organizations will err on the side of “too much” control more often than “too little”
  2. More insecure agencies will err more than less secure agencies
  3. The more unpredictable the environment, the greater the returns to Navigation by Judgment
  4. The less the task can be pre-planned or effectively managed using output #s (verifiability), the greater the returns to Navigation by Judgment

To test his hypotheses, he compiled a database of evaluations from over 14,000 unique projects from 9 development agencies between 1973 and 2013. The database is available for download on his website. He complemented this analysis with 8 in-depth case studies that varied across 3 dimensions (environmental predictability, propensity to navigate by judgment and ability to externally verify).

Here’s what he found:

  • Development agencies often get the balance (between top-down control and letting agents drive) wrong
  • There are returns to navigation by judgment in countries of differential environmental unpredictability
  • Ability to navigate by judgment is linked to success, particularly in less legible environments and less verifiable tasks
  • Measurement is constraining and sometimes self-defeating (reporting on performance can undermine performance). He refers to this as the reductive seduction, and power, of metrics
  • Tight management structures are likely to be particularly ineffective in the most fragile/post-conflict states
  • Sometimes, you can get more “juice” with less “squeezing”

For more details you can listen to the podcast or watch the video below. The book is now available on Amazon – it is worth reading!



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