Operational models: Entrepreneurship v. Organizing

I rolled out of bed earlier than usual last Thursday morning to take part in a twitter chat organized by ODI. The topic was: “how to be a development entrepreneur.” (Check out the recap on storify.)

Given that it was at 5am in New York (the other participants were in London and Manila), I knew I probably wouldn’t be at my sharpest. That said, it gave me a nice incentive to finally finish reading two recent ODI reports in preparation: “Development entrepreneurship: how donors and leaders can foster institutional change” (co-authored with the Asia Foundation) and “Adapting development: improving services for the poor.” Both are highly recommended, but I found the first one especially interesting.

Entrepreneurship or organizing?

Development entrepreneurship, as the report describes it, is an operational model for thinking and working politically on development reforms. The report briefly describes a few of the model’s successes in the Philippines, explained with various principles from management literature. The operational model includes management tools and funding modalities, distinguishing it from things like PDIA, which is more a set of guiding principles than specific processes. This is significant because you need a model and tools in order to tackle questions of scalability and replicability.

I found the “entrepreneurship” framing curious. Continue reading