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:
- Most organizations will err on the side of “too much” control more often than “too little”
- More insecure agencies will err more than less secure agencies
- The more unpredictable the environment, the greater the returns to Navigation by Judgment
- 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”