Introducing the BSC Video series

written by Salimah Samji

Since the inception of the Building State Capability (BSC) program, the team has made over 50 presentations around the globe at places like the World Bank, IDB, ODI, SIDA, DANIDA, OECD, DFID, UNDP, USAID, and at several think tanks and universities. The positive feedback that we have received has encouraged us to conceive of a new way of sharing our approach with a wider and more diverse audience.

Today we are proud to launch the BSC video series – a set of short 2-5 minute videos highlighting the key elements of our approach, which we will release over the next few weeks.

We hope you enjoy the videos!

New Year, New Logo

Happy New Year!

Building State Capability is the Center for International Development at Harvard University’s newest program. Since the inception, the team has published 13 UNU-WIDER working papers and made over 50 presentations around the globe.

As we head into the second year, we are pleased to share our new logo with you – see below. The logo captures some of our key considerations:

  • Building metaphor: Building state capability is a complex task which takes time and effort.
  • Blocks of diverse shapes and sizes: There are a multitude of tools that you can use. No one size fits all.
  • Gaps in the sphere: Local context is paramount. You never start with a clean slate.
  • Builders both inside and outside: You need multi-agent leadership at various levels.

BSC Logo

PDIA: is not about perpetual muddling (Part 4/4)

written by Matt Andrews

This is the last of the four common excuses that I hear about why PDIA cannot be done in development. If you are interested, you can read the first, second and third one.

Excuse 4: International development experts often tell me that PDIA is not possible because it implies that we are always muddling through. “How do I sell a muddled reform project ?”

I firmly believe that PDIA has its most value when we are in complex settings dealing with complex problems, where we don’t necessarily know the solutions or how to implement the solutions. In such situations one needs a process of finding and fitting relevant solutions that are unknown at first. This is where PDIA comes in and is useful .

If PDIA is used at the start of reforms in such contexts, one can find and fit solutions that have functional impact. A more traditional project process can be used once one knows (at least to some degree) what to do and how to do it. So you don’t need to muddle along forever… And PDIA is not about perpetual muddling – it is about structured, experiential learning.

PDIA4

The Studley Tool Chest

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I wanted to share the story of the image we chose for this blog – the Studley Tool Chest.

Designed by piano maker Henry O. Studley (1838-1925), this toolbox is about 40 inches by 20 inches when closed, and holds approximately 300 tools. Apparently, it is so heavy that it takes 3 strong people to put it up on the wall. He developed and added new tools, over the period of 30 years, adapting and ensuring that every tool fit snugly in its space. The craftsmanship is extraordinary and it remains in a class of its own. It has been exhibited at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. Here’s a video if you are interested in seeing it.

Studley Tool Chest

Untying Development

Yesterday, we hosted a one-day workshop entitled, Untying Development: Promoting Governance and Government with Impact. The day brought together different voices to discuss the challenge of creating a governance agenda that focuses on solving country-specific problems, involves local people through flexible and context-fitted processes, and emphasizes learning in the reform process.

In the first session, Francis Fukuyama highlighted the need for public administration programs to shift the focus from management back to implementation. He stressed the need for more granular governance indicators and better ways to measure the implementation of government public services. The second and third sessions were focused on unleashing local agents for change, and on new practice in action. In the fourth and final session on useful evaluation, Bob Klitgaard spoke about kindling creative problem solving by using a combination of theory and examples that are Specific, Unexpected, Concrete, Credible, Emotional and Stories (the acronym SUCCES in Made to Stick). The agenda as well as the videos of the sessions can be found here.

This builds on work emerging in our Building State Capability program (including the recent book by Matt Andrews).