Tag: systems thinking

If Complexity was a person, she would be a Socialist. Jean Boulton on the politics of systems thinking.

Jean Boulton (physicist, management consultant and social scientist, right) responds to Owen Barder’s Wednesday post on thinking of development as a property of a complex adaptive system. I’d like to go a bit further than Owen on the implications of complexity for how we understand power and politics. It is generally the case that the […]

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What has cancer taught me about the links between medicine and development? Guest post by Chris Roche

My friend and How Change Happens co-conspirator Chris Roche (@croche123) has had a rough year, but has used it to reach some interesting insights into the links between medicine and development. In July last year I was diagnosed with a pancreatic neuro-endocrine tumour. This is a rare disease and thankfully usually not as lethal as […]

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Fit for the Future? Systems thinking and the role of International NGOs – draft paper for your comments

I’m committing potential hara-kiri by giving a DFID staff talk on the future of INGOs tomorrow lunchtime (Wednesday) – if you’re an FP2P reader in DFID, do please come along. Here’s the background and a call for comments on the draft paper I’m presenting: (INGO futures, Green v5 April 2015 (edited)). Just before Christmas, Oxfam boss […]

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What are the implications of ‘doing development differently’ for NGO Campaigns and Advocacy?

I’ve been having fun recently taking some of the ideas around ‘Doing Development Differently’ and applying them to INGOs, building on the post I wrote last year on ‘You can’t take a supertanker white-water rafting’. The Exam Question is: Given complexity, systems thinking and the failure of top down approaches, what future, if any, is […]

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Can complex systems thinking provide useful tools for aid workers? Draft paper on some DFID pilot experiments, for your comments

Ben Ramalingam, who wrote last year’s big book on complexity and aid (Aid on the Edge of Chaos) has been doing some interesting work with DFID and wants comment on his draft paper (with Miguel Laric and John Primrose) summarizing the project. The draft is here BestPracticetoBestFitWorkingPaper_DraftforComments_May2014 (just comment on this post, and the authors will […]

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How can complexity/systems thinking help small island states?

‘It’s a big year for small islands’ announced the speaker before me, who revelled in the title ‘The Honourable Lord Tu’ivakano, Prime Minister, Kingdom of Tonga’ (right). When my turn came, how should I refer to him? (I’m hopeless at this kind of thing, must come from going to a state school.) His Lordship? Your […]

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How to bridge the Valley of Death that separates complexity/systems thinkers from decision makers?

Sometimes new ideas arrive like a bolt from the blue. More often they emerge through a series of conversations, reading and thinking. An element of repetition may be necessary, provided you talk to different kinds of people about the same issue (rather than having the same meeting with the same people over and over again […]

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Lant Pritchett on why we struggle to think in systems (and look for heroes and villains instead)

This passage in Lant Pritchett’s new book, The Rebirth of Education, (reviewed here yesterday), had me gurgling with pleasure. It explains, in vintage Pritchett prose, why we all find it so hard to think in terms of systems, rather than agents (i.e. heroes and villains). He totally nails the origins of that glazed look I […]

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How do we move from getting kids into school to actually educating them? Provocative new book by Lant Pritchett

I approached Lant Pritchett’s new book ‘The Rebirth of Education’ with glee and trepidation. Glee because Lant is one of the smartest, wittiest and best writers and thinkers on development. Trepidation because this issue is an intellectual minefield of Somme-like proportions (remember the epic Kevin Watkins v Justin Sandefur battle?). And sure enough, Lant took […]

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Aid on the Edge of Chaos, a book you really need to read and think about

I held off reviewing Ben’s book til after last night’s launch at ODI, so that I could add any useful extra info or soundbites. Here goes. It’s smart, well-written and provides a deeper intellectual foundation for much of the most interesting thinking going on in the aid business right now. Ben Ramalingam (right)’s Aid on […]

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