written by Salimah Samji
In 2009, we began to explore how to do PDIA in the real world. Our early engagements helped us learn, develop and refine our tools – some of our key ideas (problem construction, problem driven convening, problem deconstruction, sequencing, action pushes etc.) emerged from this process.
In 2012, the Building State Capability program was created to house the action research, learning and experimentation of the PDIA approach. Since then, we have tried, tested, iterated and adapted our tools in our direct work with 349 government officials, across 45 teams, in 12 countries (Africa, Sri Lanka and Albania). In addition, 970 development practitioners in 83 countries (47% in Africa and 22% in Asia) have used these tools in our free PDIA online courses and have found them useful.
In keeping with our commitment to democratize PDIA knowledge, and to make it freely accessible to those who are in the trenches of implementing development policies and programs, we are proud to release the PDIAtoolkit : A DIY approach to Solving Complex Problems (Version 1.0). It is an open access publication, available online and distributed under the terms of a Creative Commons Attribution –Non Commercial –No Derivatives 4.0 International license (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0).
Continue reading Introducing the PDIA Toolkit
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.
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
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
written by Mark Heyward
During the first half of 2018, a group of 21 development practitioners from the Innovation for Indonesia’s School Children (INOVASI) program and partners, formed cross-program groups and completed the intensive, 15-week online course conducted by the Building State Capability program at Harvard’s Centre for International Development, called ‘Practice of PDIA; Building Capability by Delivering Results’. In addition to INOVASI personnel, participants came from the Indonesian Ministry of Education and Culture (MOEC), the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), the DFAT-funded Technical Assistance for System Strengthening (TASS) and Research for Improving Systems of Education (RISE) programs, the Social Monitoring and Early Response Unit (SMERU) Research Institute, and the independent Kuark organization. They worked together in four small groups to address real-world problems related to INOVASI’s aims:
- How to improve learning outcomes in Indonesian primary classrooms?
- How to systematically improve learning outcomes in Indonesian districts and schools?
- How to build an evidence base on what works to improve learning outcomes – to inform policy and practice?
Continue reading PDIA Course Journey: INOVASI’s experience with PDIA to solve the wicked hard problem of basic education in Indonesia
Guest blog written by Sinit Zeru, Safiatou Diallo, Diaraye Diallo, Himideen Toure and Sophie Tidman
Team Guinea successfully completed the 15-week Practice of PDIA online course that ended in June 2018. This is their story.
During a press conference held before his second term, Guinea’s President, Alpha Conde, eloquently summarised our team’s chosen challenge: “there is rubbish everywhere!” In the capital, Conakry, there are sixty-five public places that have become informal dumping grounds – including beaches, roads and markets – holding nearly 35,000 tonnes of rubbish. Every day, 1,000 tonnes of waste are produced in Conakry. Waste is expected to increase 5% every year, fuelled by population growth and single-use plastic packaging. The arrival of the first rainfall this year pushed garbage previously retrieved from gutters into homes. As the rainy season continues to October, overflowing landfill sites threaten lives and cholera outbreaks are feared.
Several actions have been initiated, including the coordination of a pilot project led by the Prime Minister for efficient waste management and professionalization of the sector. Citizens, especially the youth of Conakry, have increasingly taken action into their own hands: tweeting selfies in front of piles of rubbish, and organising volunteer clean-up operations of beaches and roads. More recently, an entire neighbourhood blocked traffic on one of the main roads of the capital to express their frustration after having their homes destroyed by landslide of rubbish.
The PDIA method offered the opportunity to break down the challenge and reach out beyond the standard stakeholders and conventional ‘best practice’ approaches. Three key learnings emerged from our team’s experience of tackling this challenge using PDIA: Continue reading PDIA Course Journey: “There is Rubbish Everywhere!”
Guest blog by Ana de Apraiz, Alberto Nuñez, Eduardo Gomez and Sofia Guillot
Team Soedalan successfully completed the 15-week Practice of PDIA online course that ended in June 2018. They are a multidisciplinary team of development professionals with different backgrounds living in Spain.
When we were asked to be part of the PDIA course sponsored by CID, most of our team members claimed something like: P-D-…What?
Fortunately, at that time at least one of us had more information about the course and he encouraged us to participate saying: “you will see, it’s going to be very interesting, it’s related to building state capability, and it introduces an innovative methodology that helps to implement projects and programmes in a development context.”
We enrolled in this “Practice of PDIA 2018S” course with one topic in mind; we aimed to understand in which way PDIA (which stands for Problem-Driven Iterative Adaptation) could help us to identify new ways of action to face the problem of high maternal mortality rate in Dominican Republic.
Continue reading PDIA Course Journey: Team Soedalan
written by Matt Andrews
In 2010, Lant Pritchett, Michael Woolcock and I started writing about PDIA (problem driven iterative adaptation) as a potential approach to do development differently.
We had been observing that many development initiatives were not yielding anticipated results, and more importantly not building any kind of capability in developing country governments.
We managed to describe the situation by referring to ‘capability traps’ like isomorphic mimicry and premature load bearing—‘successful strategies for continued failure’ that characterized much of the development landscape. We were able, further, to identify that the development community was especially susceptible to fall into these traps because projects tended to be solution-driven, linearly structured, and top-down, expert dominated.
Given this ‘observe, describe and identify’ research, we posited that an alternative approach might yield different results. Hence we came up with the principles of PDIA—start with problems, iterate to experiment with many ideas and learn the way towards contextually fitted solutions, in large and diffused groups. Continue reading Knowing through doing, and learning