PDIA Course Journey: Stop, Look, and Listen! Preventing Recruitment of Youth into Illicit Activities in Southern Colombia

Guest blog written by Cameron Berkuti, Christina Schultz, Diana Acuña, Juan Pablo Castaño, Kelly Brooks, Susan Kemp

This team successfully completed the 15-week Practice of PDIA online course that ended in December 2018. This is their story.

As development practitioners, we tend to rush in with solutions to deal with complex problems. We impose so-called best practices without digging deep to uncover the roots of a problem due to donor demands and other pressures to show short-term gains. However, acknowledging that a problem is “complex” means that we first need to step back and give ourselves room to figure out how to achieve sustainable impact. We found this to be the case when confronting the problem of youth recruitment in Vaparaiso, Colombia, where we applied problem driven iterative adaptation (PDIA).

In post-conflict Colombia, following half a century of civil strife, youth in municipalities previously controlled by the former Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) are experiencing an emerging threat to their well-being. Violent groups that benefit from illicit activities, such as drug trafficking and illegal mining, are taking advantage of the power vacuum, left by the demobilization of the FARC, by coercing youth to join their ranks. The small, isolated municipality of Valparaiso, with a population of nearly 12,000, is no exception. Lack of trust in the judicial system and local authorities to bring perpetrators to justice and prevent retaliation has led to a severe underreporting of this phenomena. The mayor’s office and family services are responsible for preventing youth recruitment. The municipality is further hampered by limited budget resources, administrative capacity, and information to comply with its obligations regarding prevention and response to recruitment.

This is clearly a “wicked hard” problem that we had been contemplating from six different chairs in Colombia and remotely from the US. The first task we took on was that we stopped and conducted an initial problem analysis to agree on what exactly we were trying to solve. This consisted of constructing the problem – the municipal government of Valparaiso did not have the capacity and resources to deal with this emerging critical concern of youth recruitment. We subsequently deconstructed this seeming intractable issue by reaching out to stakeholders, looking at available (although scarce) data, and continually asking “why”. We discovered a range of root causes, from law enforcement still being conducted from a military perspective to a deteriorating social fabric. Mapping out the sub-causes only further confirmed that the problem could not be solved in one go. Rather than being overwhelmed by this complexity, we realized that there was ample space in authority, acceptance, and ability that provided us an entry point in one root cause – local government, schools, parents and others did not see the value in engaging youth in solving their own problems. Continue reading PDIA Course Journey: Stop, Look, and Listen! Preventing Recruitment of Youth into Illicit Activities in Southern Colombia

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

PDIA Course Journey: Going Back in order to go Forward (South Africa)

Guest blog written by Lolo Isabelle Balindile Manzini, Xolani Innocent Mthembu, Katerina Nicolaou-Manias, Godfrey F. Phetla, Vijay Valla

This team works for the Department of Small Business Development (DSBD) in the Government of South Africa. They successfully completed the 15-week Practice of PDIA online course that ended in December 2018. This is their story.

It sounds counter-intuitive to go back over and over again in order to go forward. Going back to the drawing board to re-examine, re-assess, review, refine and revise the problem statement and its root causes is one of the key underpinning principles of Problem Driven Iterative Adaptation (PDIA) on a path towards achieving either policy reform, sustainable development or providing enabling support to small business in the mainstream economy. PDIA fosters constant learning, both on a professional and personal level, while devising context-specific, small, actionable steps that promote success, through identifying pockets of excellence (positive deviance) and then building dynamic sustainable solutions to the problem being addressed.

After a 15-week time-intensive and demanding course both professionally and personally, you cannot possibly walk away without turning all of your pre-conceived ideas of problems in every aspect of your life (and how you problem solve them) upside down and inside out.

The PDIA experience teaches you continual reflection, re-examination, re-assessment, revision and refinement in your approach to addressing all facets of the problem, making progress by learning about the problem and through putting small steps into place to address it, making progress towards solving it.

Continue reading PDIA Course Journey: Going Back in order to go Forward (South Africa)

PDIA Course Journey: CFI in Cambodia

Guest blog written by Lee Henley, Vann Sokha, Jenny Ciucci, Zoey Henley

This team successfully completed the 15-week Practice of PDIA online course that ended in December 2018. This is their story.

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CFI is a small NGO in a rural part of Battambang Cambodia, we work with some of the most resource poor children in Cambodia. We have worked in this community for ten years and we wanted to ensure that our NGO could support generations of children and their families to come. As an organization we had been giving a lot of thought to financial sustainability but we didn’t know where or how to get started, but had seen many other NGOs start successful social enterprises and we thought that must be our answer! We enrolled in the online PDIA course with a vision of our successful sustainable future, ready to use our new found skills to put our ready-made solution into action.

Very quickly we learnt that maybe our problem wasn’t so clear cut as we thought. We were faced with a wicked hard problem without a clear plan in place; ……..enter PDIA.

Continue reading PDIA Course Journey: CFI in Cambodia

PDIA Course: 1,000+ alumni in 3 years

written by Salimah Samji

Wow – I can’t believe that we’ve trained 1,112 development practitioners in 86 countries through our free PDIA online course! When we first launched this course in November 2015, we thought that training 50 people would be wildly successful. So my friends – the state of the PDIA course is strong!

I want to pick up where I left off, exactly a year ago, when I shared what we had learned.

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Continue reading PDIA Course: 1,000+ alumni in 3 years

Applying the ‘triple A’ framework in Pakistan and Palestine: what we learnt about implementing reform

Guest blog written by Albert Pijuan and David Hoole

86 development practitioners at OPML have successfully completed the 15-week Practice of PDIA online course over the past two years. This is a story of how they are using the PDIA tools. 

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At Oxford Policy Management, we have been building on and incorporating the lessons from the building state capacity course into our day–to-day work. As a company, we started drawing on the lessons and frameworks set out in this course on the back of Matt Andrew’s 2012 book, The Limits of Institutional Reform in Development. In doing so, we have explored how to apply problem-driven, iterative adaption (PDIA) in practice, and particularly some of the key frameworks. Chief among these is the ‘triple A’ framework of authority, acceptance, and ability. In this post we share some lessons and reflections we have drawn from applying this framework in separate projects in Pakistan and the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs). Continue reading Applying the ‘triple A’ framework in Pakistan and Palestine: what we learnt about implementing reform

Registration for our free PDIA online course has closed

 

We are delighted to announce that we will be offering The Practice of PDIA: Building Capability by Delivering Results once again, from September 2 – December 16, 2018. 

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, online discussions and 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. Continue reading Registration for our free PDIA online course has closed