10 new things we did in 2018

written by Salimah Samji

It’s February and 2018 feels like a long time ago!

Last year, I wrote my first annual stock taking blog and I’ve been meaning to write a follow up since early January, but 2019 has been off to an incredibly busy start.

As you may know, we are small team of doers who are constantly testing, learning, reflecting, and adapting our approach – essentially PDIAing our way forward, often while charting new waters. The year 2018 was very productive and rather than tell you everything we did, I thought I would highlight the 10 new things we did. Without further ado …

  1. In January, we created a twitter handle (@HarvardBSC) to increase our presence on social media and to share more of our work. Follow us to stay updated on our work.
  2. In February, we recorded our first BSC Podcast series. We’re seeing that we get a lot more traction on podcasts compared to our short 3-5 minute videos. Needless to say, we will be doing more of these in 2019. Here are a few, in case you missed them:
  3. In March, we released our first whiteboard animation video entitled PDIA: A Journey of Discovery. This was a response to the question “what is PDIA?” as we found that people were using the term PDIA without understanding what it means. Watch the video and test your understanding!
  4. In April, we began our second year of engagement with CABRI to build PFM capabilities in Africa. 36 public officials from Central African Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Lesotho, Liberia and Nigeria, participated in the program. It was the first time we ran a program for both Anglophone and Francophone countries with simultaneous translation. This allowed us to translate content into French to make it more accessible. Check out the French videos and paper. Stay tuned for subtitled videos in Spanish!
  5. In May, we launched the PDIA in Practice series. These are short notes that describe our early engagements that helped us learn, develop and refine our tools – some of our key ideas (problem construction, problem driven convening, problem deconstruction, sequencing, action pushes etc.) emerged from this process. The first note recounts a short story of the first PDIA experiment we conducted in Mozambique in 2009, and the ‘adaptation window’ idea and practice it inspired. There is an accompanying podcast as well as a longer working paper.
  6. In July, we began a blog series entitled, PDIA course journey written by alumni of our free PDIA online course. You can read blogs written by teams working in the Dominican Republic, GuineaIndonesia and Pakistan. We have around 40 more blogs that were written by the last cohort in December 2018 that we are planning to release this year. Follow our blog so you don’t miss out!
  7. In September, we began an engagement to build the capability for policy implementation in Honduras. We are working with 7 teams of civil servants on key problems related to energy, agricultural exports, tourism, access to capital for SMEs, and the business climate. This opportunity emerged from an HKS alumni (Marco Midence MC/MPA 2018) who had done work on using PDIA for a growth strategy in Honduras while he was a student.
  8. In September, we also announced a brand new online course entitled Creating Public Value. This was an 8-week course for individuals and 84 development practitioners in 27 countries successfully completed the course. 90% rated the course excellent or very good. You can listen to this Podcast to learn more about the course.
  9. In October, we released our PDIAtoolkit: A DIY approach to solving complex problems (version 1.0). It is an open access publication, available online and distributed under the terms of a Creative Commons Attribution –Non Commercial –No Derivatives 4.0 International license. We have tried, tested, iterated and adapted our tools in our direct work with 417 government officials, across 52 teams, in 13 countries (Africa, Sri Lanka and Albania). In addition, 1,112 development practitioners in 86 countries have used these tools in our free PDIA online courses and have found them useful. The toolkit was another format for packaging our content to make it useful to those in the weeds of implementation. Stay tuned for a Spanish version coming soon!
  10. In October, we also held a BSC Symposium entitled, “How do you mobilize political elites and citizens?” featuring Alice Evans, Lily Tsai and Rakesh Rajani.  You can listen to the podcast or watch the video.

In 2019 we hope to write more, consolidate our learning and make headway on building a PDIA community of practice that collaborates, learns, shares, and grows together ultimately leading to more successful development outcomes.

I know it’s late, but best wishes for a productive 2019!

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