written by Mark Heyward
During the first half of 2018, a group of 21 development practitioners from the Innovation for Indonesia’s School Children (INOVASI) program and partners, formed cross-program groups and completed the intensive, 15-week online course conducted by the Building State Capability program at Harvard’s Centre for International Development, called ‘Practice of PDIA; Building Capability by Delivering Results’. In addition to INOVASI personnel, participants came from the Indonesian Ministry of Education and Culture (MOEC), the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), the DFAT-funded Technical Assistance for System Strengthening (TASS) and Research for Improving Systems of Education (RISE) programs, the Social Monitoring and Early Response Unit (SMERU) Research Institute, and the independent Kuark organization. They worked together in four small groups to address real-world problems related to INOVASI’s aims:
- How to improve learning outcomes in Indonesian primary classrooms?
- How to systematically improve learning outcomes in Indonesian districts and schools?
- How to build an evidence base on what works to improve learning outcomes – to inform policy and practice?
Continue reading PDIA Course Journey: INOVASI’s experience with PDIA to solve the wicked hard problem of basic education in Indonesia
Guest blog written by Sinit Zeru, Safiatou Diallo, Diaraye Diallo, Himideen Toure and Sophie Tidman
Team Guinea successfully completed the 15-week Practice of PDIA online course that ended in June 2018. This is their story.
During a press conference held before his second term, Guinea’s President, Alpha Conde, eloquently summarised our team’s chosen challenge: “there is rubbish everywhere!” In the capital, Conakry, there are sixty-five public places that have become informal dumping grounds – including beaches, roads and markets – holding nearly 35,000 tonnes of rubbish. Every day, 1,000 tonnes of waste are produced in Conakry. Waste is expected to increase 5% every year, fuelled by population growth and single-use plastic packaging. The arrival of the first rainfall this year pushed garbage previously retrieved from gutters into homes. As the rainy season continues to October, overflowing landfill sites threaten lives and cholera outbreaks are feared.
Several actions have been initiated, including the coordination of a pilot project led by the Prime Minister for efficient waste management and professionalization of the sector. Citizens, especially the youth of Conakry, have increasingly taken action into their own hands: tweeting selfies in front of piles of rubbish, and organising volunteer clean-up operations of beaches and roads. More recently, an entire neighbourhood blocked traffic on one of the main roads of the capital to express their frustration after having their homes destroyed by landslide of rubbish.
The PDIA method offered the opportunity to break down the challenge and reach out beyond the standard stakeholders and conventional ‘best practice’ approaches. Three key learnings emerged from our team’s experience of tackling this challenge using PDIA: Continue reading PDIA Course Journey: “There is Rubbish Everywhere!”
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.
Continue reading PDIA Course Journey: Team Soedalan
We are delighted to share our new fun PDIA Anthem that you can add to your summer playlist!
As you can see, we’ve iterated and adapted our music style from our first PDIA Anthem.
written by Matt Andrews
In 2010, Lant Pritchett, Michael Woolcock and I started writing about PDIA (problem driven iterative adaptation) as a potential approach to do development differently.
We had been observing that many development initiatives were not yielding anticipated results, and more importantly not building any kind of capability in developing country governments.
We managed to describe the situation by referring to ‘capability traps’ like isomorphic mimicry and premature load bearing—‘successful strategies for continued failure’ that characterized much of the development landscape. We were able, further, to identify that the development community was especially susceptible to fall into these traps because projects tended to be solution-driven, linearly structured, and top-down, expert dominated.
Given this ‘observe, describe and identify’ research, we posited that an alternative approach might yield different results. Hence we came up with the principles of PDIA—start with problems, iterate to experiment with many ideas and learn the way towards contextually fitted solutions, in large and diffused groups. Continue reading Knowing through doing, and learning
written by Lant Pritchett
Improving “accountability” has been a popular agenda for improving public sector performance for some time, and I have promoted accountability as a key to effectiveness myself. In reviewing Dan Honig’s new book, Navigation by Judgment: Why and When Top Down Management of Foreign Aid Doesn’t Work, I want to make a key distinction between account based and accounting based accountability. The fundamental notion of accountability is an account, which is a narrative, a story we tell to those to whom we feel we owe a justification (which can included both authorizers who have provided us with resources and levers to act, professional and occupations peers with whom we share identify and seek approval, and those on behalf we were supposed to have acted, and social peers) about why what we did was the right thing to do (or not) in the circumstances to advance the shared objectives and within the accepted norms. Our account may have some hard numbers and data—what I call “accounting”—but the fundamental issue is the account.
The question is whether accountability can be fully exhausted by accounting. With Moore’s law increasing by orders of magnitude the power to do transmit series of zeroes and ones (information in the Shannon information theory sense) it is increasingly asserted accountability can be reduced to hard, objective, computer storable, numbers and that technology will help governments improve accountability.
Continue reading Account based accountability and Aid Effectiveness
written by Tim O’Brien and Salimah Samji
We launched a pilot course entitled “The Practice of PDIA: Adapting to Climate Change,” in September 2017. This was our first attempt at customizing our free, PDIA online course to a specific theme of development problems. Our motivations in choosing climate change adaptation as an anchor for the course were:
- A growing understanding that the impacts of climate change are increasingly making complex development challenges harder, and often presenting binding constraints to the growth of inclusive well-being in particular places;
- A hypothesis that the tools and processes of the PDIA approach could be useful to address climate change vulnerabilities on various scales by empowering local teams and building local capabilities;
- An observation that local vulnerabilities to climate change could present the kind of shared problems around which coalitions can form and capabilities can emerge for both adaptation and development;
- An assumption that building resilience is rarely constrained by finance or technology, but often by a lack of shared knowhow to make use of these tools;
- And a question of whether the development community’s toolkit for climate change adaptation might need to be less focused on discrete projects and “scaling solutions,” and more focused on building a highly-connected and adaptive global community of practice.
Continue reading PDIA and Climate Change Adaptation