PDIA Course Journey: Enhancing Women’s participation in Nigeria

Guest blog written by Adetunde Ademefun, Lois Chinedu, and Suleiman Oluwatosin

This team is made up of of experienced Programme, Research and Communication Staff and Assistants who work at the Nigerian Women Trust Fund (NWTF). They successfully completed the 15-week Practice of PDIA online course that ended in December 2018. This is their story.

Amazingly, when we were asked to be part of the PDIA course and were told the members of our team, concerns were raised about tight schedules, especially how in Nigeria, we are preparing for the elections and it would not be seemingly possible to dedicate time for meetings to ensure a coordinated flow of information. But, we did it!

For a fact, this course has appeared to be both a fascinating and an emerging field. The PDIA course was very well done and we enjoyed it. The instructors were really good and instrumental to our success as a team. The first part of this course that really brought us closer as a Team was Module Five where, we learnt about “People as the Source of Capability”. This particular module helped reinforce the importance of team work in an organisation

Two very vital modules that got our critical thinking caps on, and as such revealed to us that we have not completely explored all the alternatives to solving one of the Key Goals of our Organisation (Enhancing Women’s Participation in Governance) were Deconstructing Problems  and Identifying the Change space. It was while studying this module that we identified entry points to solving problems such as advocating through lobbying, creating voter sensitization programmes through policy makers, etc. Continue reading PDIA Course Journey: Enhancing Women’s participation in Nigeria

Hello Organization Man: the importance of old (and boring) administration in a new (and exciting) world

written by Matt Andrews

Earlier this week, the New York Times ran the following great Op-ed on the lack of administrative focus in governance systems. This is an important article. We need to be saying ‘Hello’ when it comes to learning about organization… no matter how mundane it seems. This inspires me to spend even more time teaching about bureaucracy. For more see my blog on mundane and my course entitled Getting things done in development.

Here’s an excerpt from the Op-ed entitled Goodbye organization man.

Imagine two cities. In City A, town leaders notice that every few weeks a house catches on fire. So they create a fire department — a group of professionals with prepositioned firefighting equipment and special expertise. In City B, town leaders don’t create a fire department. When there’s a fire, they hurriedly cobble together some people and equipment to fight it.

We are City B. We are particularly slow to build institutions to combat long-running problems. …

A few generations ago, people grew up in and were comfortable with big organizations — the army, corporations and agencies. They organized huge construction projects in the 1930s, gigantic industrial mobilization during World War II, highway construction and corporate growth during the 1950s. Institutional stewardship, the care and reform of big organizations, was more prestigious.

Now nobody wants to be an Organization Man. We like start-ups, disrupters and rebels. Creativity is honored more than the administrative execution. Post-Internet, many people assume that big problems can be solved by swarms of small, loosely networked nonprofits and social entrepreneurs. Big hierarchical organizations are dinosaurs.

The Ebola crisis is another example that shows that this is misguided. The big, stolid agencies — the health ministries, the infrastructure builders, the procurement agencies — are the bulwarks of the civil and global order. Public and nonprofit management, the stuff that gets derided as “overhead,” really matters. It’s as important to attract talent to health ministries as it is to spend money on specific medicines.

As recent books by Francis Fukuyama and Philip Howard (the rule of nobody) have detailed, this is an era of general institutional decay. New, mobile institutions languish on the drawing board, while old ones are not reformed and tended. Executives at public agencies are robbed of discretionary power. Their hands are bound by court judgments and regulations.

When the boring tasks of governance are not performed, infrastructures don’t get built. Then, when epidemics strike, people die.

The boring bureuacrat

Getting Real about Governance and Governance Indicators

written by Matt Andrews

Many have asked me how I personally think about governance and assess governance when I visit countries. I have a new working paper that presents my thoughts on this. These thoughts manifest in what I call an ends-means approach to looking at governance.

I focus on ends as a starting point in looking at governance because these reflect the revealed functionality or capability of states—what they can do. I think that revealed capabilities and ends are ignored in much of the current governance discussion because of a bias towards questions about form and preferred means of governing. The bias manifests in reform programs that introduce commonly agreed-upon and apparently ‘good’ means of managing public finances, structuring regulatory frameworks, procuring goods, organizing service delivery, managing civil servants, and much more. The bias is even reflected in views that governments should be transparent and non-corrupt and have merit based hiring procedures. I am sure we all want to be in governments that look like this, but do appearances matter as much as action? And do these appearances always promote the action needed from governments, especially in developing countries?

In promoting a form based governance agenda (of what we want states to look like), I think we (as a community of governance observers) often forget that governments exist to do and not just to be. We thus focus on the means of being rather than the product of doing. This bias leads to governance indicators and reforms that emphasize perfection of means, often failing to make a connection to the ends or even clarifying which ends matter. (Or allowing for the idea that different ends might matter in different places at different times or that different ends might justify and even warrant different means in different countries or even sectors in countries). This is particularly problematic in developing countries where governments are only five or six decades old and are still defining and creating their ends and their means. Approaches to governance should help in this process of defining and re-defining, but this help should start by emphasizing ends—what governments need to do to promote development for citizens—and then think about means—how governments could do such things.

The tension between ends and means in the governance discourse


The first section of this new paper makes the argument for focusing on ends and then means. The second and third provide details on the ends and means I typically look at; identifying seventy of these to get as full a picture of governance as possible. A fourth section then discusses why I do not use stand-alone, hold-all indicators of governance to present this picture. The next section introduces my own way of actually looking at and analyzing governance data: Using comparative, bench-marked dashboards and narratives instead of stand-alone indicators. I build a dashboard example to show how it allows a view on the multi-dimensional nature of governance and fosters a conversation about strengths, weaknesses and opportunities in specific countries.

Here is what it looks like. For details you will have to read the paper, but the idea is that one picture—made up of 70 pieces of data—illustrates how a specific government compares with others on important ends and means. The variation in colors reflects the variation in governance characteristics and performance, which is commonly evident in countries. Hold-all governance indicators commonly fail to show this variation, averaging it out instead of revealing it as key to getting a full picture of the governance situation in any state.

Example of a Dashboard



I don’t intend for this to be an academic treatise, but offer it as my personal viewpoint on an increasingly important topic. Think of it, perhaps, as an exercise in ‘thinking out loud’. As such, the paper is a cover-all piece on my views about this subject to date, which one will see in the references to my work, including articles, blog posts, formal figures and tables and less formal cartoons. Hopefully the totality of this work provokes some thinking beyond my own. In particular, I aim to contribute to the discussion about including governance indicators in the post 2015 development indicator framework. The final section of this paper offers specific ideas in this regard, intended to build on already-important contributions.





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).