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
Guest blog written by S. Subash, Vimala Devi Vidya and J. Ravishankar
This is a team of physicians working as District Blood Transfusion Officers for Tamil Nadu AIDS Control Society (TANSACS) living in India. They successfully completed the 15-week Practice of PDIA online course that ended in December 2018. This is their story.
We enrolled into the PDIA course without knowing what it was and what we needed to do. But the Project Director of TANSACS encouraged us, gave us objectives that we were struggling with and directed us to engage with this new tool/approach. So one fine day, we joined the ride on “Practice of PDIA 2018F” with our objective to solve – How do we address the problems faced by Government blood banks, in acquiring 20% of blood units collected by private blood banks in Tamil Nadu, India.
Government blood banks in Tamil Nadu are facing a shortage of blood units and acquiring 20% of blood units from private blood banks was a strategy to increase the blood stocks. But private blood banks were not willing to part with blood units as it was money for them. They either did not report their blood donation camps or under-reported their collection in camps. Either way, the Government blood banks were suffering from increasing demand and a reducing donor pool.
We started with a 6 member team and early on, we learnt about the big stuck faced by countries aiming for development. The book “Building State Capability” became the bible for the next 15 weeks. We learned new terms like Implementation gap, Isomorphic Mimicry, Premature load bearing and Transplantation. Some of our team members could not spare the time and energy needed for PDIA and bowed out. And this was the ‘first lesson learnt’ for us and we rallied and reinforced ourselves that we will fight to the finish, like plotting the map of 1804!
We found that the problem we were facing belonged to the typology ‘Implementation intensive service delivery’ which was not wicked hard category. We came to know that success of a leadership is not for the face of the leader but through multi-agent leadership. We formed the team norms and started our group activity of engaging our problem. As we constructed and deconstructed our problem and formed our first fishbone diagram, we found that there were many sub-causes that led to our problem. Continue reading PDIA Course Journey: Solving the Problem of Blood Transfusion in India
Matt Andrews teaches a course entitled “Getting Things Done: Management in the Development Context,” at the Harvard Kennedy School. He often gets asked about what he teaches in his course. So, he has decided to experiment with blogging about his course after every class. Each blog entry will include his powerpoint presentation, his syllabus, required readings/videos as well as a summary of what happened in class.
He already has two blogs up. The first class was about the need to understand the bureaucracy better, and second class was on classical management theory, bureaucracy and scientific management. You can see the entire syllabus here. This is your opportunity to follow the class and learn more about “getting things done in development.” Let us know what you think.
We are proud to announce that Looking Like a State: Techniques of Persistent Failure in State Capability for Implementation co-authored by Matt Andrews, Lant Pritchett and Michael Woolcock won the Faculty Article Award from the Sociology of Development Section of the American Sociological Association (ASA). The award ceremony was held in San Francisco on August 16, 2014. This seminal paper is the foundation of the Building State Capability (BSC) program and the precursor to PDIA. For more information, please read Escaping Capability Traps through Problem Driven Iterative Adaptation (PDIA) or watch our Vimeo Channel.
When asked to name a problem, people often name a solution (i.e. the lack of a solution). This leads to designing typical, business as usual type of interventions without addressing the actual problem. In this video, Lant Pritchett, uses an education example to illustrate the difference between problems and solutions. You can watch the video below or on YouTube.
If you are interested in learning more, watch constructing problems to drive change.
An analytical typology can help you answer the question, building capability to do what? This is the second of four videos that addresses the analytical questions you need to ask in order to determine the implementation capability required for your activity. In this video, Lant Pritchett explains the meaning of local discretion using examples from health and the financial sector. You can watch the video below or on YouTube.
If you are interested in learning more, watch why do we need a typology and is your activity transaction intensive.
An analytical typology can help you answer the question, building capability to do what? This is the first of four videos that addresses the analytical questions you need to ask in order to determine the implementation capability required for your activity. In this video, Lant Pritchett explains the meaning of transaction intensive using examples from health and education. You can watch the video below or on YouTube.
If you are interested in learning more, watch capability for policy implementation and why do we need a typology.