Guest blog by Ana de Apraiz, Alberto Nuñez, Eduardo Gomez and Sofia Guillot
Team Soedalan successfully completed the 15-week Practice of PDIA online course that ended in June 2018. They are a multidisciplinary team of development professionals with different backgrounds living in Spain.
When we were asked to be part of the PDIA course sponsored by CID, most of our team members claimed something like: P-D-…What?
Fortunately, at that time at least one of us had more information about the course and he encouraged us to participate saying: “you will see, it’s going to be very interesting, it’s related to building state capability, and it introduces an innovative methodology that helps to implement projects and programmes in a development context.”
We enrolled in this “Practice of PDIA 2018S” course with one topic in mind; we aimed to understand in which way PDIA (which stands for Problem-Driven Iterative Adaptation) could help us to identify new ways of action to face the problem of high maternal mortality rate in Dominican Republic.
We have learned that many countries are facing a Big Stuck building administrative capabilities which means that despite many efforts and initiatives, they are making a very slow progress. We have also learned some important concepts such as what is an Administrative Fact Fiction, why form does not equal to Function, when we need to adopt Isomorphic Mimicry, and why we should be aware of Premature Loadbearing.
This course has also helped us to understand the purpose of building state capability (building capability to do what?) which is related to the typology of the activity. And more important than that, it has helped us to understand in what type of context this activity can be implemented, one context that looks like 1804? or one that looks like year 2015? At this point, we must recognize that when the PDIA course rolled us back to early XIX century, we all knew that this course was going to be such a remarkable journey!
We moved forward understanding the importance of the context and the relevance of people as a source of capability when using PDIA approach. We also realized on the importance of multi-agent leadership to successfully implement projects and programs in a complex context.
To get down to business, we started by constructing and deconstructing the Problem of maternal mortality. We put in practice tools as the “5-why technique” and we started asking ourselves, why does it matter? why reducing high maternal mortality rates matter? to whom does it matter? who needs to care more? and how do we get them to give it more attention?
We also used tools as the Ishikawa diagrams also known as Fishbone Diagram which allowed us to identify the sub causes of the complex problem of maternal mortality. Then we better understood the nature of the problem since PDIA helped us to identify the Change Space. Problem Driven Sequencing was key to generate a Triple A change space (Authority Acceptance, Ability) which allowed us to find potential entry points. With these entry points, we were ready to design and implement our first Iteration which might has been one of the key aspects of the PDIA course. We learned the importance of action, learning by crawling and the need to adapt iteration in order to get better results.
Well, to sum up we now can say that this course has not only been “interesting”… After 15 Modules, readings, videos, individual and group assignments, online graded discussions, etc… we now can confirm that it has been… an AMAZING LEARNING EXPERIENCE!! We are very grateful to BSC for this PDIA journey that has allowed us to become part of a vibrant community of social scientists. We are willing to use all the knowledge gained and contribute with our grain of sand to make our world a better place!