Need help decoding the acronym PDIA? Check out the PDIA anthem.
This Anthem uses the Instrumental from Mos Def – Mathematics. It was made by a very talented student as part of an assignment for Matt Andrews course entitled Getting Things Done in Development. We had never imagined that we could write a song about PDIA, let alone a rap. Thank you.
Let me hear you say P. D. I. A. …
We are delighted to release The DDD Manifesto as an outcome of the 2014 Doing Development Differently (DDD) workshop.
In late October, a group of about 40 development professionals, implementers and funders from around the world attended the DDD workshop, to share examples where real change has been achieved. These examples employ different tools but generally hold to some of the same core principles: being problem driven, iterative with lots of learning, and engaging teams and coalitions, often producing hybrid solutions that are ‘fit to context’ and politically smart.
The two-day workshop was an opportunity to share practical lessons and insights, country experience, and to experiment first hand with selected methodologies and design thinking. In order to maximize the opportunity to hear from as many people as possible, all presenters were asked to prepare a 7:30 minute talk — with no powerpoints or visual accompaniments. The workshop alone generated a rich set of cases and examples of what doing development differently looks like, available on both Harvard and ODI websites (where you can watch individual talks, see the posters or link to related reports).
The aim of the event was to build a shared community of practice, and to crystallize what we are learning about doing development differently from practical experience. The workshop ended with a strong call for developing a manifesto reflecting the common principles that cut across the cases that were presented. Watch the closing remarks here.
These common principles have been synthesized into The DDD Manifesto. We recognize that many of these principles are not new, but we do feel the need to clearly identify principles and to state that we believe that development initiatives will have more impact if these are followed.
As an emerging community of practice, we welcome you to join us by adding your name in the comment box of the manifesto.
written by Matt Andrews
I recently blogged about what matters about the context. Here’s a video of a class I taught on the topic at the University of Cape Town over the summer (their winter). It is a short clip where I try to flesh out the 4 factors that I look at when thinking about new policy: 1. Disruption; 2. Strength of incumbents; 3. Legitimacy of alternatives; and 4. Agent alignment (who is behind change and who is not).
Today was the first day of Doing Development Differently (#differentdev). It was a full day with two DDD Exchange Sessions, a design thinking session and a wind tunnel meeting. View the storify to see all the content, including videos, tweets and photos.
When we designed this workshop, we wanted to maximize the opportunity to hear from as many people as possible. Specifically, we wanted
- to show that it is possible to do development differently;
- the participants to discern key principles and cross-cutting modalities or tools;
- to explore whether we could promote a vibrant Community of Practice for those trying to do development differently.
To facilitate this, we asked our presenters to prepare a 7:30 minute talk —with no powerpoints or visual accompaniments. The talk had to address the following questions:
- What problem were you trying to solve?
- How had you/your organization/others addressed this problem in the past?
- What did you do?
- How did you manage the politics of your work?
- How did you ensure learning in the process?
We are delighted to share the first set of 7:30 presentations: Michael Woolcock, Zack Brisson, Tim Williamson, and Kay Winning. Here are some key principles that cut across all the presenters:
- Humility: We don’t know the answers
- Articulate principles that can scale
- Donors role: broker, convenor, facilitator, adviser
- Understand context: listening, relationships and personal networks are central
- Need feet on-the-ground to support the process
- Create space for local solutions and local ownership
- Embrace and navigate politics: work with what you have
- Building and sustaining broad coalitions: middle/low level bureaucrats, many stakeholders at all levels
- Iterative messy process: one that evolves over time, problems change, solutions change
- Built-in rapid cycles of learning
- Refine problem definition: focus on what really needs to be solved
- Take advantage of windows of opportunity (shocks, critical junctures, etc)
- Adaptability: thinking strategically but building on flexibility
Follow #differentdev and storify for live coverage of Day 2.
written by Salimah Samji
International development experts often tell us that they cannot do PDIA because the project processes within their organizations do not allow for flexibility. The truth however, is that all development agencies have some sort of instrument that does allow for experimentation and flexibility. Here’s an example of how a Pay and Performance project in Sierra Leone explicitly used PDIA principles.
Civil service reforms are complex in and of themselves. If you add, a lack of capacity to implement programs, multiple reporting lines, demoralized civil servants, a lack of coordination amongst key agencies, and a low-level of trust, the potential for success of such a reform decreases significantly. Recognizing this, the World Bank team decided to use the key principles of the PDIA framework with support from the Leadership for Results (LforR) program for their Pay and Performance Project in Sierra Leone. The rationale for this was to bring a broad range of stakeholders together and facilitate a process of collective problem and solution identification, as well as to introduce experimentation and adaptability during implementation.
They began with some short-term results-focused Rapid Results Initiatives (RRIs) in Year 0 and Year 1. The pilot was instrumental in building the confidence of the local civil servants by demonstrating that progress was possible in their context and gave them a sense of ownership. In addition, the short feedback loops facilitated rapid experiential learning about what results were actually achieved for both government and the World Bank staff – in PDIA terminology, we call this strategically crawling the design space.
Specifically, they used a two-pronged, learning-by-doing process, which included:
- Structured team coaching throughout the implementation process: A locally based rapid results coach who had an in-depth understanding of government and public sector reform was hired to provide support to teams on a daily basis. The coach:
- Facilitated problem solving at multiple levels in the system with team-level work,
- Helped create action plans by breaking a huge daunting task into smaller easier to digest chunks,
- Motivated the teams despite the challenges, and
- Created an opportunity for the teams to learn from each other and to see how their work fit within the larger picture.
- Facilitated leadership fora for dialogue: One-day strategic leadership convenings between leaders and implementation teams were held at critical points. These retreats served to review progress and learning, problem-solve, facilitate reflection, make strategic decisions, and course-correct where needed. In PDIA terminology, we call this maintaining the authorizing environment.
After 20 months of implementation (February 2014), they had several hard results. More importantly, there was stronger inter- and intra-agency collaboration and increased trust and communication. The teams actually had the capacity to do things themselves. The flexibility at the design stage allowed more politically and technically feasible solutions to emerge.
So, large bureaucracies can do PDIA and it doesn’t take forever. Bottom-line: the mundane matters and cannot be ignored for a project to succeed.
Roberto O. Panzardi and Kay Winning are in the process of publishing a paper with more details on this project. You can read about the preliminary results here.