PDIA Course Journey: Unravelling premature load bearing in Nigerian public institutions

Guest blog by Andrew Omoluabi,Folake Oluwayemisi Aliu, Saheed Mustafa, Ukeme E. Essien, Wakaso Semira,Oluyemisi Elizabeth Akpa

This is a team working at WaterAid in Nigeria. They successfully completed the 15-week Practice of PDIA online course that ended in December 2018. This is their story.

Propelled by the quest to gain a deeper understanding of the sharp variations in the outcomes of past and ongoing technical assistance received by various Nigerian public institutions, a team of six Nigeria-based development workers embarked upon this journey of PDIA.  At the time of enrolling for the PDIA course, none of us knew anything about the approach.  We were nudged on to commit the next 15 weeks of our lives through the persuasive acumen of the team member that made the discovery.

After 15 weeks of having our creed for capacity development shaken to its very foundation, learning new terminologies like “Big Stuck”, “Premature load bearing”, “Isomorphic Mimicry”, and the hair pulling that came with our weekly WhatsApp based meetings, each team member is proud and relieved at the same time to have made it to the end of the course.  Was our group cohesion anywhere near what we saw of the Orpheus Group… far from it.  Was the course worth the effort? A unanimously resounding yes from the group, especially since PDIA is at the heart of the sort of complex problems that we as development workers tackle daily.

We learnt new things and had some of our assumptions overturned.

One of the key learning for us was that we had been guilty of developing the capacity of public institutions in the likeness and image painted by our respective funding agencies.  Unbeknown to us that we had been perpetuating isomorphic mimicry ourselves.  It is no wonder therefore that you find instances of agencies that on the outside look like they possess all the requisite conditions to succeed but, on the inside, lack the capability.   Making this determination is however not as easy as it seems.  We learnt that to do this effectively, we needed to apply the processes and principles of PDIA.  For instance, we had to go beyond the symptoms of the capacity problem to the root causes by iteratively constructing and deconstructing the problem. Continue reading PDIA Course Journey: Unravelling premature load bearing in Nigerian public institutions

PDIA in Sri Lanka: Evaluating Potential Sites for New Industrial Zones

Guest blog written by Priyanka Samaraweera

The Land Team (L team) consisted of government officials from multiple departments in the Board of Investment, Sri Lanka. This team was formed as a continuation of the Targeting Team in Phase 2 of the PDIA Sri Lanka project. The Targeting Team identified new priority sectors to diversify the economy. The Land team then worked to map out suitable lands for anchor investors in these new sectors. This was part of a PDIA engagement from May 2016 to September 2017.

L team members: Upali Senarath, Ranjan Sibera, Sujani Pilapitiya, Priyanka Samaraweera, Lalith Katugampalage, Nalini Egodawatte, Sukumary Niranjan, Tharaka Jayawardena & Marlon Perera. This is their story!

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Through the comprehensive analysis conducted, the Targeting Team was capable of identifying priority sectors for attracting investment and enhancing the exports of Sri Lanka. The next task was to identify suitable lands for establishing factories in these sectors, especially given that over 89% of the Export Processing Zones (EPZs) of the BOI are already filled. Since limited access to productive land for the potential Investors can be considered as one of the most important limiting factors to attract investments, due consideration should be given to resolving land issues prior to marketing priority sectors to the investor.

Having identified the problem, the Land Team began gathering information on available lands for investment projects. It was noted that the state owns over 80% of land in Sri Lanka, though this ownership is spread over at least ten different Ministries and Departments. The team met with many of these bodies, ultimately creating a database of over 600 available lands (Figure 1). Continue reading PDIA in Sri Lanka: Evaluating Potential Sites for New Industrial Zones

PDIA Course Journey: Higher Education Access in Ecuador

Guest blog by Daniela Espinosa Alarcón, Gabriela Suarez Buitron, Luis Fernando Ochoa, Verónica Villavicencio Pérez

This is a team working at the National Secretariat of Higher Education and Technology in Ecuador. They successfully completed the 15-week Practice of PDIA online course that ended in December 2018. This is their story.

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Developing strategies based on identifying the core complex problem that we have to solve has contributed to a change of collective mind-set. In the public sector in Ecuador we tend to work according to political agendas instead of working towards a long term project. Working towards the solution of a problem gives us a clear path to plan better strategies and better public policies.

Being together as a team in this course has been one of the most important elements to take away. Accomplishing great things alone can be hard. Thus, surrounding ourselves with great colleagues and professionals improved our capacity to build strategies to solve our problem, being more effective and strengthening our professional bonds. Setting clear norms and supporting each other has been key for success.

Finally, we have learned that projects do not have to be perfect from the beginning. In the way many things can go wrong, the important thing is to identify the mistakes and correct them in time. PDIA is a great tool to have this constant exercise of reflection and correction of our plans towards the solution of complex problems. Continue reading PDIA Course Journey: Higher Education Access in Ecuador

PDIA for Delivery Facilitation

written by Matt Andrews

We at the Building State Capability program (BSC) have been working directly with governments for over a decade now; focused on helping agents in those governments build their capability to deliver for citizens and society.

We are not consultants. We do not write purely academic papers, offer technical advice, or work in other traditional consultant ways. Rather, we ask the authorizers we are working with in the governments to nominate problems they care about and appoint their own teams to work on those problems. We then work with the teams regularly (often weekly) to learn their way through their problems, to new, locally defined solutions. The teams do the work, gain from the learning, and achieve the progress. This is how they grow their capability and make progress in improving delivery to their citizens and society.

The methodology we employ is called Problem Driven Iterative Adaptation (PDIA). It is a simple management approach that helps organizations solve specific complex problems and build their capability to solve other complex problems in the process.

Some people ask if we are like delivery units. The answer is no.

Continue reading PDIA for Delivery Facilitation

PDIA in Sri Lanka: Attracting Anchor Investors in Solar Panel Manufacturing

Guest blog written by Ganga Palakatiya

The Investor Engagement team (I team) consisted of government officials working at the Board of Investment, Sri Lanka, to diversify the economy by engaging new anchor investors and attracting Foreign Direct Investors (FDI) in new sectors. This was part of a PDIA engagement from May 2016 to September 2017.

I team members: L K D Lawrance, Nelson Kumaratunga, Dilip Samarasinghe, Vipula Jayasinge, Ganga Palakatiya, Dhammika Basnayake, Krishnatha Britto, Indunil Perera, Hemadree Naotunna, and Rushda Niyas. This is their story!

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Based on the Targeting Team (T team) findings on sector targeting, Solar Panel Manufacturing was identified as a potential sector for investment in Sri Lanka. The “I Team,” consisting of dedicated officers for investment promotion, was assigned to promote Sri Lanka as an attractive destination for this and other priority sectors and attract key “anchor investors.” The timeframe given for this task was period of one year. Solar Panel Manufacturing would be a pioneer sector for Sri Lanka. There were no existing manufacturers in the country except one player who was under construction status. Thus, this was a new technology for the country, unfamiliar to Sri Lanka’s workers, suppliers and government bodies. This formed a challenge for the I Team, but with trainings from CID, the team crafted a four-step strategic approach (Figure 1), combining existing BOI investment promotion methods with a more proactive targeting of key sectors, countries and companies.

Figure 1: Strategic Approach of I Team in Investor Engagement Targeting Sectors for FDI Attraction & Export Promotion

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Continue reading PDIA in Sri Lanka: Attracting Anchor Investors in Solar Panel Manufacturing

PDIA Course Journey: Lack of Youth Participation in Papua New Guinea

Guest blog by Coletah Ronah Kibai, Kirk Gibson, Pricillar Napoleon, Andrew Lepani, Hannah Athaliah James, Hercules Jim, Maliwai Sasingian

Many members of this team work for The Voice Inc. in Papua New Guinea. They successfully completed the 15-week Practice of PDIA online course that ended in December 2018. This is their story.

Young people under 35 make up about 70% of the population yet there is limited attention to how decisions affect young people or on issues specifically related to young people, leading to a range of issues – high rates of youth unemployment, low school completions etc… Our initial problem statement was the lack of effective youth participation in policy development in Papua New Guinea (PNG). Over the course of the PDIA journey, we have evolved with our understanding of the problem.

As a team, we have learnt so much – about trying out the wicked hard problems, doing one iteration action at a time to learning about our team and gaining a deeper understanding of the youth space.

One thing that we know the key learnings from the course (problem construction, deconstruction, designing change space, team norms, iterations etc…) can be used in our own spaces of influence to tackle the complex problems.

Continue reading PDIA Course Journey: Lack of Youth Participation in Papua New Guinea

Views of public policy implementation success and failure: Sharing my thoughts

written by Matt Andrews

There are many views on what constitutes success and failure in public policy implementation. I have been chewing on these a lot over the last couple of years as I try to make sense of the challenges of implementation and of knowing when implementation is going well or not.

Here are some approaches I find useful in this work.

First, a large literature on project success is relevant in this discussionbecause many public policies are implemented through project-like processes (with some studies even referring to the ‘projectization‘ of various policy domains, especially in international development). The project management literature tends to emphasize different types of ‘success’ in the implementation process (if you want to read more detail,  I advise this article on the topic by Paul Bannerman):

(i) Process or project management success: the immediate performance of a project against its main design parameters—schedule (time), budget (cost), scope, and quality.

(ii) Product success: the extent to which a project delivered promised ‘products’, and if those products were used and considered useful by intended users (or beneficiaries).

(iii) Business or Strategy (or impact) success:  whether a project solved the particular problem that warranted it in the first place, and—even more expansively—if the project better positions the community  affected to address future problems or take future opportunities and benefits.

Another large literature on policy implementation offers related but also different ideas about ‘success’. A key article in this literature (by Bovens, ’t Hart and Peters 2001, which I cite below for those with interest) refers to two key dimensions of success: Continue reading Views of public policy implementation success and failure: Sharing my thoughts