Register now for the free PDIA online course targeted to climate change adaptation!

We are delighted to announce that we will be offering The Practice of PDIA: Adapting to Climate Change, from September 24 – December 17, 2017. 

This is an experiential 12-week course tailored to teams working on problems that are related to climate change adaptation. The course will include video lectures, required reading, assignments, reflection exercises, peer interaction as well as group work. We estimate that the weekly effort will be between 5-8 hours. This is a practical course and you will be expected to work on your problem throughout the course, including taking action steps to solve your problem.

We have been offering a very successful online course to help teams solve complex problems in a wide range of sectors, like education, health, public financial management, and agriculture, using our tools. You can learn more about our experience here.

If you are interested in this course, you will need to identify a:

  1. Climate change adaptation problem that you want to solve. Some examples of types of problems include:
    • Dealing with vulnerability to droughts and floods
    • Dealing with the impacts of sea level rise
    • Building resilience to natural disasters
    • Responding to changing conditions for agriculture due to warming and changes in rainfall patterns
    • Responding to changing ocean ecosystems due to warming and acidification
    • Addressing increasing levels of heat stress and new disease burdens
  1. Team of 4-6 people who will work with you to solve your problem.

The goal of the course is for you to build capabilities for climate change adaptation while actually doing climate change adaptation work.

Enrollment is limited to 20 teams. Registration is now closed.

Registration for our free PDIA online course is now open!

written by Salimah Samji

<update>: Registration is currently closed for this course.

We are delighted to announce that we will be offering The Practice of PDIA: Building Capability by Delivering Results once again, from September 3 – December 17, 2017. 

This is a 15-week course for practitioners who are in the weeds of development and actually want to learn how to do PDIA. In this course you will have the opportunity to work on your nominated problem, as a team, using our tools. The course will include video lectures, required reading, assignments, reflection exercises, peer interaction as well as group work. We estimate that the weekly effort will be between 5-8 hours. We will use the recently published “Building State Capability: Evidence, Analysis, Action” book as the core text. In June 2017, 30 groups across 15 countries, successfully completed this course. You can read more about their takeaways here.

If you are interested in this course, you will need to identify a:

  • Problem you want to solve. This is a practical course and you will be expected to work on your problem throughout the course, including taking action steps to solve your problem.
  • Team of 4-6 people who will work with you to solve your problem.

Enrollment is limited. Registration for this course is now closed.


Here are some testimonials from students who have completed a similar version of the Practice of PDIA: Building Capability by Delivering Results.

The PDIA program faculty was truly exceptional, not only because of their expertise and individual intellect and knowledge and research, but also because they understand how to engage participants in different ways. If you are concerned about why and how countries are poor or mired in a vicious cycle of underdevelopment; then this course is just want you need to help unravel the answers to your questions and arm up with the principles and know-how to tackle them.” Abdulrauf Aliyu, Head of Business Development and Strategy, Inteliworx Technologies, Nigeria

A couple of years ago I joined the development industry as a program officer for a bilateral aid agency in Tanzania. Three years down the line I was frustrated: our partners in the government were “always committed” but things were not really moving in the way and pace we hoped they would. In short, nothing much was changing. If anyone asked me at the time who is at fault, I would have hastened to say it was the government. Having done the PDIA course, however, I can appreciate better why things were happening the way they were, and our responsibility as staff members of funding agencies in the reform failures. So I am thrilled that it is possible to do development differently, the PDIA way. It does not promise that it will be easier doing development this way, and it might never get any easier; but I believe it offers a better chance of bringing real and lasting change even if it comes slowly.” Rose Aiko, Independent Consultant, Tanzania

The course was terrific from both a theoretical and practical standpoint. I was amazed about how accurately the issues addressed in the course related to my day-to-day experiences working in development. In fact, our work plan for our upcoming technical assistance program is largely based on PDIA!” Team Leader, Asian Development Bank, Dili, Timor-Leste

“The PDIA course has been for me the learning highlight of this year. The course has given me the knowledge of a process and tools that I was looking since traditional approaches to projects with best practices from elsewhere, solution-based, blueprint-based, with fixed plan, aiming always at system change, etc. do not work in most cases. I have now a set of steps and, more importantly, questions that can guide me in the work with colleagues and partners to understand the context in which we try to introduce change, identify concrete problems that people want to solve, and try to solve them, one at a time.” Arnaldo Pellini, Research Fellow, Overseas Development Institute

As a Project Manager and Solutions Consultant in Nigeria, taking “PDIA: Building Capability by Delivering Results” opened paths to new possibilities for finding and fitting solutions that are based on specific contexts and current realities, by working with clients, communities and policy drivers. At the heart of these possibilities is the realization that no matter what the problem is or how complex it seems, we can start acting immediately. Most importantly, the interactions with peers and access to a growing PDIA Community of Practice provide unlimited potentials for the future.” Abubakar Abdullahi, Managing Principal, The Front Office NG, Nigeria

“Having worked in development for 35 years I recommend this course to all development practitioners. PDIA is a detailed process that will facilitate your design and implementation approach. PDIA has several steps. I believe the adoption of either all of these steps or just some selected steps will improve the design and implementation of your projects and programs, with improved benefits and results.”  John Whittle, Semi-retired and Consulting in Central Asia

“Through the modules of PDIA, I have had a mindset change on how development works and how it could work. It is an approach that has opened my eyes to many things that I had previously struggled to understand in my 15 years of development practice, where I have observed vicious cycles of problems like chronic poverty, corruption, and poor service delivery despite heavy investments by donors and recipient governments. I will continue to see my work with a PDIA lens and assess new projects in the same way. It is exciting to try and do things differently in an effort to get different results from the norm.” Cate Najjuma, Economist, Royal Danish Embassy, Kampala

“The PDIA course is perfectly designed for those who are currently trying to address real world issues. It has contributed to increase my value add on reform issues in Tunisia.  The course is very focused and practical, allowing it to fit into the busy schedule of professionals like me and to learn at an impressive pace.  I definitely recommend it to prospective applicants.” Gomez Agou, IMF Desk Economist, Washington DC

“The PDIA course showed how approaching and solving complex and challenging reform efforts are not pinned on rigid, structured frameworks but rather on a common sense approach bottled in a simple method all rooted on the fundamentals of understanding, clarifying, learning, experimenting and adapting.” Abubakar Sadiq Isa, Managing Director, Inteliworx Technologies, Nigeria

“The PDIA course represents an empirical reform prescription in building state capability by delivering results through theoretical and practical approaches geared toward sustained improvement and performance. Tom Tombekai, Liberia

“I enjoyed taking the course PDIA: Building Capacity by Delivering Results. I have been doing development work in Africa in the anti-corruption area. This course introduced me to some new concepts in terms of building acceptance for ideas and programs and especially understanding the environment in terms of what may be possible and how success should be measured. It has has changed how I will approach future development problems. I very much enjoyed the readings, lectures and interactions with other students from around the world.” Craig Hannaford, Independent Consultant, Canada

“I have also been taught that every problem has got a series of causes and sub-causes. You really have to be very critical in analyzing a problem in order to address it effectively. This is one of the products of PDIA. I find myself thinking outside the box when I have to solve a problem whether in the office, with vendors or even at home. It is in this course that I first heard “deconstruction of a problem”. Deconstruction and sequencing work has helped me to foster actions to solve a problem. Ultimately, through this course PDIA, I have learnt that in the development sector, before bringing solutions to the government, I have to understand the existing practice, positive deviance, latent practice and external best practice. Without this course, I would not be an improved reformer.” Doris Ahuchama, Finance and Administration Manager, Nigeria

 

 

 

Democratizing PDIA knowledge one practitioner at a time

written by Salimah Samji

We now have 569 development practitioners in 64 countries who have successfully completed a version of our free PDIA course.

Since we began our online journey in November 2015, we have learned, iterated and adapted our course three times, essentially PDIA-ing our way forward. More than 80% of each cohort has completed our course evaluation, which has enriched our understanding of how our content was received, as well as helped us identify learning gaps. To address some of these gaps, we went against conventional MOOC wisdom and increased the length of our courses in our last offering, by adding 2 weeks to Principles and 4 weeks to Practice. As we had hoped, this change did improve the learning and did not significantly change the attrition rates or the overall rating of the course.

PDIA online course _81817

Here’s what we have learned in the third iteration:

  • Groups in the Practice course were able to hold their members accountable and they learned how to work together. 30 groups working on problems in 15 countries successfully completed the course in June 2017.
  • The practical parts of the course continue to be rated as most useful. In particular, problem construction, deconstruction, crawling the design space, authorization, isomorphic mimicry, reflections, and multi-agent leadership were listed as key takeaways for both the Practice and Principles courses. In their words:
    • Construction and the deconstruction of problems. Because it helped me focus on smaller element of a complex problem by the help of a fishbone, which in return helped me solved complex problem with ease.”
    • Authorisation – the clear articulation of what authorisation is, why it’s important to have, and why conflicting or unclear lines of authority can cause program failure or lack of authority to deliver a program.”
    • Crawling the Design Space Worksheet helped me to apply the concepts and tools in a real problem.”
    • Reflections, which allowed me to apply the learnt knowledge to my particular local context and experience.”
    • The real-life based experience, very hands on approach and some of the fundamental issues and reflections such as a new perspective on leadership in development contexts or tacit knowledge and ways to acquire it or how change happens in practice.”
  • The participants of the Practice course, a course for self-created groups working on a problem of their own, also listed change space analysis/AAA, iteration, teamwork, small steps, patience/persistence/grit, and contextualization as key takeaways highlighting the fact that they had understood the true meaning of doing PDIA. In their words:
    • The fishbone diagram served as a starting point for deconstructing and constructing our problem(s) and then served as a basis for the rest of the course, namely designing our entry points and interventions.”
    • The identifying change space enabled one know that even if there is small change space, there is still something one can do.”
    • The team exercises and bonding it brought about, the content of the course, concepts and ideas about leadership, change space etc. Above all, working contextually to solve problems.”
    • The PDIA tools are tangible outputs that I can easily explain how to use when approaching future problems. However, I also see the value in writing the reflections, as this cemented the important of the feedback process in learning from what worked and what didn’t.”
    • I have learned that it may be scary to thread through the unknown, but it is the best approach to find best fit solutions to an identified problem.”
    • The iterations helped bring theory into focus by practicing what we understood intellectually.”
    • The iterations. I believe it is the most important aspect of PDIA and without it chances of failure are great.”

We are delighted to announce that we will be offering the Practice of PDIA beginning September 3, 2017. Registration opens on Wednesday August 23. Stay tuned for more details!

 

Building State Capability: Review of an important (and practical) new book

Guest blog by Duncan Green

Jetlag is a book reviewer’s best friend. In the bleary small hours in NZ and now Australia, I have been catching up on my reading. The latest was ‘Building BSC coverState Capability’, by Matt Andrews, Lant Pritchett and Michael Woolcock, which builds brilliantly on Matt’s 2013 book and the subsequent work of all 3 authors in trying to find practical ways to help reform state systems in dozens of developing countries (see the BSC website for more). Building State Capability is published by OUP, who agreed to make it available as an Open Access pdf, in part because of the good results with How Change Happens (so you all owe me….).

But jetlag was also poor preparation for the first half of this book, which after a promising start, rapidly gets bogged down in some extraordinarily dense academese. I nearly gave up during the particularly impenetrable chapter 4: sample ‘We are defining capability relative to normative objectives. This is not a reprisal of the “functionalist” approach, in which an organization’s capability would be defined relative to the function it actually served in the overall system.’ Try reading that on two hours’ sleep.

Luckily I stuck with it, because the second half of the book is an excellent (and much more accessible) manual on how to do Problem Driven Iterative Adaptation – the approach to institutional reform that lies at the heart of the BSC programme.

Part II starts with an analogy that then runs through the rest of the book. Imagine you want to go from St Louis to Los Angeles. How would you plan your journey? In modern America, it’s easy – car, map, driver and away you go. Now imagine it is 1804, no roads and the West had not even been fully explored. The task is the same (travel from East to West), but the plan would have to be totally different – parties of explorers going out seeking routes, periodic time outs to decide on the next stage, doing deals with native American leaders along the way, and constantly needing to send back for more money and equipment. Welcome to institutional reform processes in the real world. The trouble is, say the authors, too many would-be reformers are applying 2015 approaches to the 1804 world – in lieu of a map, they grab some best practice from one country and try to ‘roll it out’ in another. Not surprisingly, it seldom works – many country political systems look more like 1804 than 2015.

BSC ch 7The chapter that really got me excited was the one on the importance of problems. ‘Focussing relentlessly on solving a specific, attention-grabbing problem’ has numerous advantages over ‘best practice’, solution-driven cookie cutters:

  • Problems are often context specific and require you to pay sustained attention to real life, rather than toolkits
  • You can acknowledge the problem without pretending you have the solution – that comes through experimentation and will be different in each context
  • Exploring and winning recognition of the problem helps build the coalition of players you need to make change happen
  • Problems often become clear during a shock or critical juncture – just when windows of opportunity for change are likely to open up

The book offers great tips on how to dig into a problem and get to its most useful core – often people start off with a problem that is really just the absence of a solution (eg ‘we don’t have an anti-corruption commission’). The trick is to keep saying ‘why does this matter’ until you get to something specific that is a ‘real performance deficiency’. Then you can start to rally support for doing something about it.

The next stage is to break down the big problem into lots of small, more soluble ones. For each of these, the book recommends establishing the state of the ‘change space’ for reform, born of a set of factors they label the ‘triple A’: Authority (do the right people want things to change?), Acceptance (will those affected accept the reform?) and Ability (are the time, money and skills in place?). Where the 3 As are present, then the book recommends going for it, trying to get some quick wins to build momentum. Where they are not, then reformers face a long game to build the change space, before jumping into reform efforts.

In all this what is special is that the advice and ideas are born of actually trying to do this stuff in dozens of countries. The authorial combination of Harvard and the World Bank means governments are regularly beating a path to their door, as are students (BSC runs a popular – and free – online learning course on PDIA).

Another attractive feature is the effort to avoid this becoming some kind of kumbaya, let a hundred flowers bloom justification for people doing anything BSC searchframethey fancy. To give comfort to bosses and funders, they propose a ‘searchframe’ to replace the much-denounced logframe. This establishes a firm and rapid timetable of ‘iteration check-ins’ where progress is assessed and new ideas or tweaks to the existing ones are introduced.

Finally a chapter on ‘Managing your Authorizing Environment’ is a great effort at showing reformers how to do an internal power analysis within their organizations, and come up with an internal theory of change on how to build and maintain support for reforms.

That chapter got me thinking about the book’s relevance to INGOs. It is explicitly aimed elsewhere – at reforming state systems, but people in NGOs, who often work at a smaller scale than the big reform processes discussed in the book, could learn a lot, particularly from the chapters on problem definition and the authorizing environment. Oxfam has been going through a painful and drawn out process to integrate the work of 20 different Oxfam affiliates, known as ‘Oxfam 2020’. I wonder what would have happened if we had signed up the 3 PDIA kings to advise on how to run it?

This blog first appeared on the Oxfam blog

Dealing with a wicked hard problem in India

Guest blog post by S. Nagarajan

I recently joined the PDIA online course, inspired by attending the launch of the Building State Capability Book at the Center for International Development at Harvard University.

A few weeks into the course, I was introduced to the typology of the capability required depending on the task. The task could be

  1. Policy making (and elite concentrated services) which requires relatively few people to implement;
  2. Logistics, where a large number of agents follow simple scripts without exercising much judgement or discretion, and act on objective facts;
  3. Implementation intensive services delivery, requiring a large number of agents engaged in complicated actions involving discretion and interact with people who benefit from the service;
  4. Implementation intensive imposition of obligations, which could be resisted by the people; and finally
  5. Wicked hard tasks which combine transaction intensive, discretionary, and are not based on a known technology.

Learning this typology reminded me of a wicked hard problem some of us had encountered as heads of districts in Tamil Nadu State, India and how we solved it.

The state government provided welfare assistance to differently abled persons, depending upon their level of disability. In May 2011, the assistance was doubled to one thousand rupees a month. However, to get the assistance sanctioned, the applicant had to approach several departments in sequence – (i)  a panel of three doctors, including the relevant specialist, would certify the level of disability; (ii) the district officer of the department for differently-abled would issue an identity card based on the doctors’ certification; (iii) the sub-district administration responsible for social security would sanction the assistance. This would need the recommendation of a chain of officials from the village-level upwards. If the applicant was below a certain age, a committee had to be convened to specially permit the sanction of the assistance. Each of these processes was an implementation intensive service delivery task. Typically, there could be thousands of agents responsible for the service delivery, working in offices and hospitals dispersed all over the district. The applicants simply could not navigate all these processes in sequence. The coordinated service delivery was a wicked hard problem for the district administration.

Years earlier, while working as the assistant to the head of another district, I had seen how this could be solved- by conducting camps. My friends heading other districts and I proceeded to conduct camps for the differently-abled in each sub-district. On designated days, the doctors and all officials from the relevant departments would be available at a single venue. The differently-abled persons who were interested in assistance were mobilized by elected functionaries of local governments to the venue, and all the processes completed synchronously within a day. Public spirited organizations pitched in by providing support for transport, food and organization. Many other departments of the state government that has programs targeted at the differently-abled were also present to serve.

While the overall task was wicked hard, we figured out intuitively that the solution was to reduce the problem to it implementation intensive elements, and also to reduce discretion greatly –transforming the task into almost a logistical problem.

  • Firstly, the agents could not be absent from the camp. A village level official is a busy person and might not be always present at the office: the applicant could now expect to see him at the camp with certainty.
  • Second, the applicant is more confident and assertive of her rights in the camp with thousands of fellow applicants and well-wishers, rather than singly meeting the agents in their own offices – ‘the lion in the den’.
  • Third, the agents cannot wrongly exercise discretion leading to errors of inclusion or exclusion under official and public scrutiny.
  • Fourth, bringing together agents of the same type allowed them to exchange notes, build up their body of knowledge and decide fairly on each case.
  • Finally, the camp ethos was to err on the side of liberality so that more people benefitted by the welfare program. However, it should be noted the problem cannot be reduced to logistics – a doctor or a professional administrator carries a body of knowledge that cannot be reduced to a script, and would always have to exercise discretion.

At the end of the day, the applicant could walk out of the camp with an identity card, an order sanctioning welfare assistance and more. In every district where camps were held, the number of persons received assistance went up by a factor of three to four.

The district heads operated in an authorizing environment created by the state government and could innovate with ideas such as camps. Each district conducted dozens of camps at the sub-district level, learning and improving on the job. The idea of camps in successfully addressing differently-abled welfare spread out from the initial few districts: in a matter of months, most districts started conducting similar camps.

~~ The author is a member of the Indian Administrative Service and is an MPP student at Harvard Kennedy School.

Registration for our free PDIA online course is closed

written by Salimah Samji

We are delighted to announce that we will be offering our free PDIA online course once again. This is our third iteration of the course and we will use the recently published “Building State Capability: Evidence, Analysis, Action” book as the core reading.

We will offer two courses tailored to different audiences. Please read the descriptions below to determine which course is the right one for you. You cannot register for both courses.

  • The Practice of PDIA: Building Capability by Delivering Results (February 26- June 18, 2017). This is a 16-week course for practitioners who are in the weeds of development and actually want to learn how to do PDIA. In this course you will have the opportunity to work together as a team, on your nominated problem, using our tools. The course will include video lectures, required reading, assignments, reflection exercises, peer interaction as well as group work. We estimate that the weekly effort will be between 3-5 hours. If you are interested in this course, you will need to identify a problem you want to solve and a team of 4-6 people who will work with you. Enrollment is limited. Registration is closed.
  • Principles of PDIA: Building Capability by Delivering Results (February 26- May 7, 2017). This is a 10-week course for practitioners who are not directly involved in the implementation of programs but are interested in learning about PDIA. The course will include video lectures, required reading, assignments, reflection exercises as well as peer interaction. We estimate that the weekly effort required will be between 3-5 hours. Enrollment is limited. Registration is closed.

Here are some testimonials from students who have completed a similar version of the Practice of PDIA: Building Capability by Delivering Results.

The PDIA program faculty was truly exceptional, not only because of their expertise and individual intellect and knowledge and research, but also because they understand how to engage participants in different ways. If you are concerned about why and how countries are poor or mired in a vicious cycle of underdevelopment; then this course is just want you need to help unravel the answers to your questions and arm up with the principles and know-how to tackle them.” Abdulrauf Aliyu, Head of Business Development and Strategy, Inteliworx Technologies, Nigeria

A couple of years ago I joined the development industry as a program officer for a bilateral aid agency in Tanzania. Three years down the line I was frustrated: our partners in the government were “always committed” but things were not really moving in the way and pace we hoped they would. In short, nothing much was changing. If anyone asked me at the time who is at fault, I would have hastened to say it was the government. Having done the PDIA course, however, I can appreciate better why things were happening the way they were, and our responsibility as staff members of funding agencies in the reform failures. So I am thrilled that it is possible to do development differently, the PDIA way. It does not promise that it will be easier doing development this way, and it might never get any easier; but I believe it offers a better chance of bringing real and lasting change even if it comes slowly.” Rose Aiko, Independent Consultant, Tanzania

The course was terrific from both a theoretical and practical standpoint. I was amazed about how accurately the issues addressed in the course related to my day-to-day experiences working in development. In fact, our work plan for our upcoming technical assistance program is largely based on PDIA!” Team Leader, Asian Development Bank, Dili, Timor-Leste

“The PDIA course has been for me the learning highlight of this year. The course has given me the knowledge of a process and tools that I was looking since traditional approaches to projects with best practices from elsewhere, solution-based, blueprint-based, with fixed plan, aiming always at system change, etc. do not work in most cases. I have now a set of steps and, more importantly, questions that can guide me in the work with colleagues and partners to understand the context in which we try to introduce change, identify concrete problems that people want to solve, and try to solve them, one at a time.” Arnaldo Pellini, Research Fellow, Overseas Development Institute

As a Project Manager and Solutions Consultant in Nigeria, taking “PDIA: Building Capability by Delivering Results” opened paths to new possibilities for finding and fitting solutions that are based on specific contexts and current realities, by working with clients, communities and policy drivers. At the heart of these possibilities is the realization that no matter what the problem is or how complex it seems, we can start acting immediately. Most importantly, the interactions with peers and access to a growing PDIA Community of Practice provide unlimited potentials for the future.” Abubakar Abdullahi, Managing Principal, The Front Office NG, Nigeria

“Having worked in development for 35 years I recommend this course to all development practitioners. PDIA is a detailed process that will facilitate your design and implementation approach. PDIA has several steps. I believe the adoption of either all of these steps or just some selected steps will improve the design and implementation of your projects and programs, with improved benefits and results.”  John Whittle, Semi-retired and Consulting in Central Asia

“Through the modules of PDIA, I have had a mindset change on how development works and how it could work. It is an approach that has opened my eyes to many things that I had previously struggled to understand in my 15 years of development practice, where I have observed vicious cycles of problems like chronic poverty, corruption, and poor service delivery despite heavy investments by donors and recipient governments. I will continue to see my work with a PDIA lens and assess new projects in the same way. It is exciting to try and do things differently in an effort to get different results from the norm.” Cate Najjuma, Economist, Royal Danish Embassy, Kampala

“The PDIA course is perfectly designed for those who are currently trying to address real world issues. It has contributed to increase my value add on reform issues in Tunisia.  The course is very focused and practical, allowing it to fit into the busy schedule of professionals like me and to learn at an impressive pace.  I definitely recommend it to prospective applicants.” Gomez Agou, IMF Desk Economist, Washington DC

“The PDIA course showed how approaching and solving complex and challenging reform efforts are not pinned on rigid, structured frameworks but rather on a common sense approach bottled in a simple method all rooted on the fundamentals of understanding, clarifying, learning, experimenting and adapting.” Abubakar Sadiq Isa, Managing Director, Inteliworx Technologies, Nigeria

“The PDIA course represents an empirical reform prescription in building state capability by delivering results through theoretical and practical approaches geared toward sustained improvement and performance. Tom Tombekai, Liberia

“I enjoyed taking the course PDIA: Building Capacity by Delivering Results. I have been doing development work in Africa in the anti-corruption area. This course introduced me to some new concepts in terms of building acceptance for ideas and programs and especially understanding the environment in terms of what may be possible and how success should be measured. It has has changed how I will approach future development problems. I very much enjoyed the readings, lectures and interactions with other students from around the world.” Craig Hannaford, Independent Consultant, Canada

“I have also been taught that every problem has got a series of causes and sub-causes. You really have to be very critical in analyzing a problem in order to address it effectively. This is one of the products of PDIA. I find myself thinking outside the box when I have to solve a problem whether in the office, with vendors or even at home. It is in this course that I first heard “deconstruction of a problem”. Deconstruction and sequencing work has helped me to foster actions to solve a problem. Ultimately, through this course PDIA, I have learnt that in the development sector, before bringing solutions to the government, I have to understand the existing practice, positive deviance, latent practice and external best practice. Without this course, I would not be an improved reformer.” Doris Ahuchama, Finance and Administration Manager, Nigeria

 

PDIA Course: Alumni are already practicing what they learned

written by Salimah Samji

We offered 4 free PDIA online courses between November 2015 and June 2016. They were well received and 365 people, living in 56 countries, successfully completed the courses.

pdia-course-one-pager

In January 2017, we surveyed the 365 PDIA course alumni to learn whether (and how) they are using PDIA in their day-to-day lives. 113 (31%) of them, living in 36 countries, responded to the survey. This includes people who work for donors, governments, consulting firms, private sector firms and NGOs.

Here’s what we found:

  • 96% of the respondents have used the key concepts, ideas, and tools.
  • 91% have shared the ideas, concepts, and tools with others. They have shared with co-workers, bosses, and friends; led study and discussion groups;  conducted workshops and trainings; and one organization used the content to train others at an annual retreat!
  • 85% have achieved something by doing PDIA. 

The findings and concrete examples that were shared in the survey have been awe inspiring. People learned the key ideas/concepts/tools we taught, are using them in their work, and are teaching others.

We plan to offer another round of free PDIA online courses soon – stay tuned!


Here are some of the things the course alumni had to say.

I think just appreciating a more building block approach to issues has offered more practical and realistic ways of working.  It has meant accepting that progress may be slower than desired but likely to be more sustainable, because you are starting at the root of the problem and you are working with the grain of political support. – DFID Governance Adviser, Nigeria

The PDIA helped transformed the way I see development administration and governance. I now use a systems thinking frame of mind to see problems and not just throw solutions at them. As professor Clayton Christensen will say, “WHAT IS THE JOB TO BE DONE?” No matter how elegant or beautiful an introduced solution is, if it does not solve people’s problem then it is useless. – Head of business development, Inteliworx Technologies, Nigeria

Before the course, I was approaching problems (ie. corruption) as a large problem to be solved with a complex approach. PDIA taught me to look at the complexities of the problem, the different interests and barriers and how to focus efforts on areas that might actually be amenable to incremental change.  I learned that any program must assess the environment and devote resources where they will be effective.  Analysis of the problem, players and barriers is key before expending resources. – Development Consultant based in Canada

The PDIA course offered some variation in how to think through and act on development problems. As I said in my summing up of the source it is an approach that can be either used in full or parts of it can be merged in with other approaches depending on the context in which one is working/consultingDevelopment Practitioner based in Australia