Creating Fit-for-Purpose Peacebuilding Evaluation: Three Key Investments (guest cross-post)

The following is a cross-post from friend-of-the-blog Andrew Blum; it originally appeared on the PeaceLab2016 blog. Beyond being a generally insightful post, I’m sharing it because a lot of the “adaptive learning” talk can tend toward the abstract, too much about principles and not enough about practices. I’m as guilty as anyone, especially when blurring lines across…

Why is it hard to hire for learning roles? 3 early hypotheses

Folks: Learning is hot right now. At least, in the aid and development sectors. Monitoring and evaluation (M&E) teams are now monitoring, evaluation and learning (MEL). Strategy departments have become “Strategy and Learning”; research departments, “Research and Learning”. Learning feeds into real-time adaptation, longer-term strategic shifts, and broader sectoral changes. It makes M&E meaningful as something more than…

More books on complexity than you can shake a stick at—plus a mea culpa

Last month, Duncan Green was kind enough to post my overly ambitious multi-book review on complexity thinking in development on his From Poverty to Power blog. It covered three books: Ben Ramalingam’s Aid on the Edge of Chaos; Jean Boulton, Peter Allen, and Cliff Bowman’s Embracing Complexity; and Danny Burns and Stuart Worsley’s Navigating Complexity in International Development. It…

How peacebuilding and opening governance can work together

I had a guest post on Global Integrity’s blog last week, based on a recent event in DC. The teaser: It takes two: What happens when the open governance and peacebuilding communities work together? Governance reform is a nearly universal need—even the world’s oldest democracies still struggle—yet the need is greatest in fragile states. However,…

Complexity and development: still more theory than practice?

Yesterday I gave a guest lecture to John Gershman’s politics of development course at NYU’s Wagner School (mostly MPA students). The topic: how the development sector puts complexity thinking into practice. Prepping and giving the lecture helped me put together some thoughts on how the topic has evolved since I took that very same course about six years ago. In recent years, there have been at…

Vague norms and specific proof

I’ve fallen off the blogging wagon in recent months. Whenever that happens, I find the best way to get back on is to post something small and easy. Fortunately, I had a bit of inspiration from a client’s recent blog post on intrinsic/normative arguments (“X is good in itself”) versus extrinsic/instrumentalist arguments (“X is good because it accomplishes…

Learning and adaptation depend on relationships (report from TA LEARN, part 3)

I got to spend a few days last week at the the third TA LEARN workshop, hosted by the Transparency and Accountability Initiative (TAI). Around 70 practitioners, researchers, funders, and the occasional consultant gathered to assess and advance the state of practice on transparency, accountability, open governance, and related issues. Here’s the third in a series of three takeaways….