Practical Approaches to Managing International Development Projects in the Face of Complexity: Session 1 Understanding Social Change

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  • 1. Practical Approaches to Managing International Development Projects in the Face of Complexity SESSION 1: UNDERSTANDING SOCIAL CHANGE EMANUEL SOUVAIRAN JANUARY 2014 THIS PRESENTATION WILL BE MADE AVAILABLE TO STUDENTS VIA SLIDESHARE
  • 2. What is the point of an international development project? WHO IS THE PROJECT FOR? WHAT DO WE WANT TO CHANGE? WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?
  • 3. Ownership “THERE ARE LOTS OF DIFFERENT CATEGORIES OF PEOPLE WHO COULD OWN OR CARE ABOUT WHAT IS GOING ON, AND THEY DON'T ALWAYS WANT THE SAME THINGS, OR THEY DO WANT THE SAME THINGS BUT NOT FOR THE SAME REASON.” MATHEW GREENALL, 2013
  • 4. Is the New York Times Ethicist a Better Economist than… the Economist? “GIVING CASH INCREASES SCHOOL ENROLMENT BY23%, BUT CASH CONDITIONAL ON SCHOOL ENROLMENT RAISES IT BY 41%.” THE ECONOMIST QUESTION: DOES GIVING CASH TO THE POOR WORK WELL? WHICH IS PREFERABLE? “SEVERAL DENTISTS IN OUR AREA OFFER TO PURCHASE CANDY DURING HALLOWEEN FROM THEIR YOUNG PATIENTS FOR $1 PER POUND. PRESUMABLY THEY DO THIS TO REDUCE THE RISK TO THEIR PATIENTS OF DEVELOPING CAVITIES. UNFORTUNATELY, THE DENTISTS THEN GIVE THE CANDY TO THE LOCAL FOOD CUPBOARD. THERE IS LITTLE DOUBT THAT MOST (IF NOT ALL) THE CLIENTS WHO USE THE FOOD CUPBOARD CAN LITTLE AFFORD PROPER DENTAL CARE. I BELIEVE SUCH BEHAVIOUR IS THOUGHTLESS, UNETHICAL AND UNPROFESSIONAL. I AM A RETIRED DENTIST.” BILL BOWEN, ROCHESTER QUESTION: SHOULD DENTISTS STOP THIS PRACTICE?
  • 5. The Economist • THE ECONOMIST ASKS “DOES GIVING CASH TO THE POOR WORK WELL?” • WORK WELL FOR WHOM? UNLESS WE ARE WILLING TO PRE-SPECIFY THE PREFERENCES OF POOR PEOPLE AND MAKE VERY CLEAR THAT THIS IS WHAT WE WANT THEM TO DO WITH THE CASH, THE QUESTION CANNOT BE FALSIFIED. • THE ECONOMIST NOTES THAT GIVING CASH INCREASES ENROLMENT BY 23%, BUT CASH CONDITIONAL ON ENROLMENT RAISES IT BY 41% AND THEREFORE CONCLUDES THAT CONDITIONAL CASH IS BETTER FOR RAISING THE HUMAN CAPITAL OF THE NEXT GENERATION. • WHAT IF HOUSEHOLDS SPENT THE MONEY ON MEDICINE FOR A SICK PARENT WHO CAN NOW EARN MORE? OR FOOD FOR THEIR CHILDREN SO THEY ATE BETTER? OR ON BED-NETS? OR A TOY SO THAT THEIR CHILDREN COULD HAVE A LITTLE FUN? EACH OF THESE COULD HAVE RAISED THE HUMAN CAPITAL OF THE NEXT. • THE ANSWER “DOES GIVING CASH WORK WELL” IS A WELL-DEFINED QUESTION ONLY IF YOU ARE WILLING TO SAY THAT “WELL” IS SOMETHING THAT WE, THE DONORS, WANT TO DEFINE FOR FAMILIES WHOM WE HAVE NEVER MET AND WHOSE LIVING CIRCUMSTANCES WE HAVE PROBABLY NEVER SPENT A DAY, LET ALONE A LIFETIME, IN.
  • 6. The New York Times Ethicist NEW YORK TIMES ETHICIST, CHUCK KLOSTERMAN: “IT’S NOT DIFFICULT TO IMAGINE A SIMILAR SITUATION WHEREIN A CARDIOLOGIST OFFERS TO BUY TOBACCO FROM HIS AT-RISK TEENAGE PATIENTS, ONLY TO DONATE THE CIGARETTES TO A HOMELESS SHELTER. BUT EVEN THAT DOESN’T STRIKE ME AS SINISTER. ADULTS HAVE THE RIGHT TO DECIDE WHAT THEY PUT INTO THEIR BODIES, EVEN IF IT’S NOT TO THEIR ADVANTAGE. A DEGREE OF SHARED KNOWLEDGE ABOUT THE CONSEQUENCES MUST BE EXPECTED. IF SOMEONE SHOPPING AT THE FOOD CUPBOARD SEES FREE TWIX BARS, HE NEEDS TO REALIZE THAT COOKIES COATED IN CHOCOLATE AND CARAMEL ARE NOT GOING TO MAKE HIS (OR HIS CHILDREN’S) TEETH STRONGER. THAT’S NOT A REMOTELY UNREASONABLE EXPECTATION, REGARDLESS OF SOCIAL CLASS. IT WOULD BE DIFFERENT IF THIS WAS THE ONLY FOOD AVAILABLE, OR IF HE AND HIS FAMILY WERE FORCED TO EAT IT — BUT THAT’S NOT WHAT’S HAPPENING HERE. WHAT’S HAPPENING IS THAT CANDY IS BEING MADE AVAILABLE TO PEOPLE WHO MIGHT NOT HAVE IT OTHERWISE. MEDICALLY, YOU WOULD ARGUE THAT THIS IS NEGATIVE. BUT THAT’S NOT THE ONLY FACTOR TO CONSIDER. IF SOMEONE IS FREQUENTING A FOOD CUPBOARD, IT CAN BE ASSUMED HE’S NOT IN A POSITION TO SPEND A LOT OF MONEY ON SMALL LUXURIES; FREE CANDY ISN’T GOING TO CHANGE ANYONE’S LIFE, BUT IT MIGHT MAKE IT BETTER FOR 10 MINUTES. OBVIOUSLY, THIS PRACTICE (VERY SLIGHTLY) RAISES THE LIKELIHOOD OF PEOPLE GETTING CAVITIES AND GAINING WEIGHT AND FINDING THEMSELVES AT RISK OF DIABETES. SOME WOULD INSIST THAT SOCIETY HAS AN ETHICAL RESPONSIBILITY TO STOP PEOPLE FROM HARMING THEMSELVES IN ANY WAY (AND TO ANY DEGREE). I AM NOT ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE. I THINK IT’S O.K. FOR THE DENTISTS TO DONATE THIS CANDY. THEY SHOULD, HOWEVER, ALSO DONATE TOOTHBRUSHES AND FLOSS. BUT THEY SHOULD BE DOING THAT ANYWAY.” •
  • 7. RATHER THAN IMPOSING OUR PREFERENCES, IT IS MORE USEFUL TO UNDERSTAND THE CONSTRAINTS AND PROBLEMS THAT THE POOR FACE IN THEIR EVERYDAY LIVES, AND TRY AS HARD AS WE CAN TO SOLVE THEM.
  • 8. Ownership: From control to coorperate “IT IS DIFFICULT TO JUDGE HOW MUCH OVER THE PAST DECADE THE BEHAVIOUR AND ATTITUDES OF DEVELOPMENT PROFESSIONALS HAVE SHIFTED FROM COMMAND, CONTROL AND TEACH TOWARDS EMPOWER, ENABLE AND CO-LEARN; THE SIX POWER AND RELATIONSHIP WORDS, FOR EXAMPLE - PARTNERSHIP, EMPOWERMENT, OWNERSHIP, PARTICIPATION, ACCOUNTABILITY AND TRANSPARENCY (GROVES AND HINTON, 2004) - HAVE BEEN MEMES, SPREADING AND WORKING AWAY IN DEVELOPMENT IN PRACTICE.“ ROBERT CHAMBERS, FROM IDEAS FOR DEVELOPMENT, 2005
  • 9. Ownership: A cautionary tale PROJECT:LAKE TURKANA FISH PROCESSING PLANT, KENYA DONOR: NORWEGIAN GOVERNMENT COST: $22 MILLION WHERE IT WENT WRONG: THE PROJECT WAS DESIGNED IN 1971 TO PROVIDE JOBS TO THE TURKANA PEOPLE THROUGH FISHING AND FISH PROCESSING FOR EXPORT. HOWEVER, THE TURKANA ARE NOMADS WITH NO HISTORY OF FISHING OR EATING FISH. THE PLANT WAS COMPLETED AND OPERATED FOR A FEW DAYS, BUT WAS QUICKLY SHUT DOWN. THE COST TO OPERATE THE FREEZERS AND THE DEMAND FOR CLEAN WATER IN THE DESERT WERE TOO HIGH. IT REMAINS A "WHITE ELEPHANT" IN KENYA'S ARID NORTHWEST.
  • 10. Ownership: A cautionary tale “IN THE 1990S, ZAMBIA IMPLEMENTED A EUROPEAN UNION AND WORLD BANK FUNDED SOCIAL FUND. COMMUNITIES, UPON MEETING REQUIREMENTS (ONE OF WHICH WAS TO CONTRIBUTE 25 PERCENT OF THE COST IN KIND), WERE GIVEN FUNDS TO IMPLEMENT THEIR SELF-SELECTED SOCIAL PROJECTS. ONE COMMUNITY ELECTED TO USE THE FUNDS TO REPAIR A WATER FACILITY. IN JUSTIFYING THEIR APPLICATION, THE COMMUNITY HAD ARGUED THAT FIXING THE WATER FACILITY WOULD PROTECT FAMILIES FROM DRAWING DIRTY WATER FROM A CROCODILE INFESTED RIVER. WHEN THE TIME CAME TO MAKE CONTRIBUTIONS, THE COMMUNITY’S COMMITTEE WAS UNABLE TO SECURE THE SUPPORT THAT WAS REQUIRED. HOWEVER, WHEN A WITCH/WIZARD FINDER SHOWED UP AND CLAIMED THAT HE COULD PURGE THE COMMUNITY OF ITS WITCHES AND WIZARDS MEMBERS CONTRIBUTED MONEY NOT ONCE, BUT TWICE. THE MORAL OF THE STORY IS THAT WHAT COMMUNITIES TRULY NEED IS NOT ALWAYS SELF APPARENT.” CORNELIUS CHIPOMA, 2014
  • 11. Ownership THE PROCESS MATTERS •THE COMMUNITY IS FAR BETTER POSITIONED TO ASSESS ITS OWN NEEDS, STRENGTHS, RESOURCES, AND INTENTIONS THAN ANY OUTSIDER. •UNLESS THE COMMUNITY BOTH PRIORITIZES THE PROBLEM AND HAS OWNERSHIP AND A STAKE IN ITS SOLUTION, THE MEMBERS’ INCENTIVES WILL NOT BE ALIGNED WITH YOUR LOGIC MODEL. •AN OUTSIDER CAN TOTALLY MISS THE FACT THAT THE COMMUNITY HAS A UNIQUE SET OF CULTURAL LENSES, ECONOMIC INCENTIVES, AND SOCIAL STRUCTURES THAT MAY RUN ORTHOGONAL TO ONE’S NEAT LOGIC MODEL. •WHEN A COMMUNITY WALKS THROUGH THIS PROCESS OF IDENTIFYING OBJECTIVES, CREATING A PLAN AND MANAGING THE ACTIVITIES, ITS MEMBERS ARE BUILDING CAPACITY THAT CAN BE APPLIED TO OTHER DEVELOPMENT ISSUES AS WELL. •IT IS EASY TO ACCOMPLISH PARTICIPATION, BUT TRUE OWNERSHIP REMAINS ELUSIVE
  • 12. Defining how social change happens within the context of international development KEY QUESTIONS TO ASK • WHO OR WHAT WAS INVOLVED IN THE CHANGE? (E.G. INDIVIDUAL ACTORS OR STATE INSTITUTIONS) • WHAT STRATEGIES WERE USED TO BRING ABOUT THE CHANGE? (E.G. REFORMISM, MASS MOBILISATION) • WHAT WERE THE CONTEXTS THAT AFFECTED HOW THE CHANGE HAPPENED? (E.G. URBANISATION, POWER RELATIONSHIPS) • WHAT WAS THE PROCESS OR PATHWAY OF CHANGE? (E.G. DEMONSTRATION EFFECTS, CUMULATIVE PROGRESS)
  • 13. Six Theories about Policy Change These include global theories developed by political scientists to explain how various kinds of advocacy strategies and conditions relate to policy change, and theories about common advocacy strategies or tactics that are likely part of broader advocacy efforts or campaigns.
  • 14. Social analysis for projects HOW WOULD A POLITICAL SCIENTIST OR AN ANTHROPOLOGIST OR A SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGIST EXPLAIN THE SUCCESS OF A HEALTH PROJECT YOU WORKED ON IN VIET NAM? HOW IMPORTANT WERE GOVERNMENT DECISIONS COMPARED TO THE EMOTIONAL LANDSCAPE OF INDIVIDUALS? SHOULD YOU SEARCH FOR THE EXPLANATIONS OF SUCCESS OVER THE PAST TWO YEARS OR BE A HISTORIAN AND EXAMINE THE PAST TWO HUNDRED YEARS? WHAT WOULD JARED DIAMOND OR MALCOLM GLADWELL OR VANDANA SHIVA SAY ABOUT THE ISSUE? WHAT WOULD A SHANTY-TOWN DWELLER YOU ONCE MET IN RIO SAY ABOUT IT? HOW DOES THIS COMPARE WITH YOUR OWN VIEWS? WHEN MAHATMA GANDHI WAS ASKED IF HE WAS A HINDU HE REPLIED, ‘YES I AM, I AM ALSO A MUSLIM, A CHRISTIAN, A BUDDHIST, AND A JEW.’ WHEN YOU ARE ASKED, FOR INSTANCE, IF YOU ARE A DEVELOPMENT ANALYST, YOU COULD ANSWER, ‘YES I AM, BUT I ALSO STRIVE TO BE A HISTORIAN, AN ANTHROPOLOGIST, A SOCIOLOGIST, A POLITICAL SCIENTIST…’ ROMAN KRZNARIC, HOW CHANGE HAPPENS, 2007
  • 15. What is a Theory of Change? “A THEORY OF HOW AND WHY AN INITIATIVE WORKS.” WEISS, 1995 “A WAY TO DESCRIBE THE SET OF ASSUMPTIONS THAT EXPLAIN BOTH THE MINI-STEPS THAT LEAD TO A LONG TERM GOAL AND THE CONNECTIONS BETWEEN THESE ACTIVITIES AND THE OUTCOMES OF AN INTERVENTION OR PROGRAMME.” REISMAN, 2007
  • 16. Origins of Theory of Change Theory of change is an on-going process of reflection to explore change and how it happens – and what that means for the part we play in a particular context, sector and/or group of people. A theory of change is two things: 1. The product or plan, and 2. The process that created this….
  • 17. Why develop a Theory of Change 1. IT ENCOURAGES DEEP OBSERVATION OF THE SYSTEM – HOW POWER IS DISTRIBUTED; HOW DECISIONS ARE MADE; WHAT ARE THE COALITIONS FOR AND AGAINST ANY GIVEN CHANGE; HOW IS CHANGE LIKELY TO HAPPEN IN THIS SYSTEM. THE LONGER YOU CAN REFRAIN FROM THE JUMP TO ‘SO WHAT DO WE DO’, THE MORE LIKELY YOU ARE TO COME UP WITH SOME GOOD IDEAS TO TEST. 2. IT MAKES YOU THINK FAR MORE ABOUT CRITICAL JUNCTURES/WINDOWS OF OPPORTUNITY AS AN ESSENTIAL COMPONENT OF ANY CHANGE PROCESS. 3. IT HIGHLIGHTS THE IMPORTANCE OF WORKING WITH ‘NON-USUAL SUSPECTS’, 4. IT HELPS YOU IDENTIFY AND OPEN UP THE ‘BLACK BOXES’ IN OUR 5. IT SHIFTS THE EMPHASIS AWAY FROM A HUGE EXERCISE IN PRE-INTERVENTION PLANNING, FOLLOWED BY A LONG AND UNREMITTING PROCESS OF IMPLEMENTATION. INSTEAD WE ARE INTO SOMETHING MORE EXPERIMENTAL AND ITERATIVE CORRECTING COURSES AS THE PROJECT EVOLVES. 6. LINKED TO THIS, A GOOD THEORY OF CHANGE SHOULD SHIFT THE CENTRE OF INTELLECTUAL ENGAGEMENT FROM MONITORING TO LEARNING
  • 18. The main components Identifying the ‘why, what, who, when, and how’ that link each element to the larger intervention may be a useful way of more fully understanding the change process.
  • 19. Grassroots theory of change (Community Organizing Theory)
  • 20. Developing a Theory of Change UNDERSTANDING DIFFERENT THEORIES OF CHANGE CAN HELP ORGANIZATIONS MORE EFFECTIVELY CHOOSE STRATEGIES AND AVOID THE “KITCHEN SINK” SYNDROME OF DOING A LITTLE BIT OF EVERYTHING AND UNREALISTICALLY EXPECTING CHANGE IN ALL AREAS.
  • 21. Understanding complexity and systems thinking A GOOD THEORY OF CHANGE PROCESS CAN HELP TO ANALYSE A SYSTEM AND TO BEGIN TO UNDERSTAND COMPLEXITY
  • 22. Systems thinking WHAT IS SYSTEMS THINKING? SYSTEMS THINKING UTILIZES HABITS, TOOLS AND CONCEPTS TO DEVELOP AN UNDERSTANDING OF THE INTERDEPENDENT STRUCTURES OF DYNAMIC SYSTEMS. WHEN INDIVIDUALS HAVE A BETTER UNDERSTANDING OF SYSTEMS, THEY ARE BETTER ABLE TO THE IDENTIFY THE LEVERAGE POINTS THAT LEAD TO DESIRED OUTCOMES.
  • 23. A Research for Health System
  • 24. Components of a system Elements Typically the most obvious part of a dynamic system Changing elements often has very little effect on a system Interconnections Often involve the flow of information Changing relationships ussually changes system behaviour Function Typically the least obvious part of a system A change in purpose changes a system profoundly
  • 25. What is systems thinking? “” We can use the phrase to refer to a set of tools – such as causal loop diagrams, stock and flow diagrams and simulation models – that help us map and explore dynamic complexity. We can also use it to mean a unique perspective on reality – a perspective that sharpens our awareness of whole and of how the parts within those wholes interrelate. Finally, systems thinking can refer to a special vocabulary with which we express our understanding of dynamic complexity. For example, systems thinkers often describe the world in terms of reinforcing and balancing processes, limits, delays, patterns of behavior over time, and so forth.” – Barry Richmond, isee systems, inc.
  • 26. Systems Thinking Strategies Visual Strategies The visual tools of systems thinking include the ladder of inference, behavior-over-time graphs, stock/flow diagrams, an iceberg visual, and causal loop diagrams. Visual tools help students and educators collect, analyze, synthesize and communicate their thoughts about systems. Listening & Speaking Strategies Development of a common vocabulary and the use of different communication techniques increase understanding of how systems work by increasing the ability to see a bigger picture through multiple perspectives. Kinesthetic Strategies These strategies engage the body along with the mind to study how and why a system functions as it does.
  • 27. Complexity The linear logic model  Identify the problem  Commission research  Analyse the results  Choose the best option  Establish the policy  Implement the policy  Evaluation The reality in Vietnam – what role for research?
  • 28. A history of complexity science
  • 29. Aid on the edge of Chaos “THERE IS A PERVASIVE AND LONGSTANDING BIAS TOWARDS TREATING THE WORLD AS A SIMPLE, PREDICTABLE PLACE IN WHICH AID CAN BE DELIVERED, AS IF ON A CONVEYOR BELT, TO BRING ABOUT POSITIVE CHANGES,” BEN RAMALIGHAM, AID ON THE EDGE OF CHAOS, 2013 • AID SHOULD BE EXAMINED USING “COMPLEX ADAPTIVE SYSTEMS” • MOVING AID (AND OUR UNDERSTANDING OF AID) FROM A CONVEYOR BELT TO AN 'ORGANIC' PROCESS • TRADITIONALLY AID HAS BEEN ROOTED IN AN MASS PRODUCTION MENTALITY WITH AGENCIES PROMOTING SILVER BULLET SOLUTIONS FOR COMPLEX PROBLEMS SUCH AS ERADICATING MALARIA, REDUCING VULNERABILITY TO DROUGHT, AND SOCIAL VIOLENCE.
  • 30. 10 concepts of complexity science INTERCONNECTED AND INTERDEPENDENT ELEMENTS AND DIMENSIONS; 2. FEEDBACK PROCESSES PROMOTE AND INHIBIT CHANGE WITHIN SYSTEMS; 3. SYSTEM CHARACTERISTICS AND BEHAVIOURS EMERGE FROM SIMPLE RULES OF INTERACTION; 4. NONLINEARITY; 5. SENSITIVITY TO INITIAL CONDITIONS; 6. PHASE SPACE – THE ‘SPACE OF THE POSSIBLE’; 7. ATTRACTORS, CHAOS AND THE ‘EDGE OF CHAOS’; 8. ADAPTIVE AGENTS; 9. SELF-ORGANISATION; 10. CO-EVOLUTION. 1.
  • 31. From linearity to adaptation WORK IN COMPLEX SYSTEMS REQUIRES MORE MONITORING, MORE ADAPTATION. EVEN IF YOU GET IT RIGHT, IT WILL BE A LOT MORE EXPENSIVE THAN STICKING TO WORKING IN ‘ISLANDS OF LINEARITY’
  • 32. Recap: What is the point of an international development project? THE KEY QUESTIONS WHO IS THE PROJECT FOR? WHAT DO WE WANT TO CHANGE? WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?
  • 33. Recap: key points A PROJECT MANAGER SHOULD: •ENSURE THERE IS OWNERSHIP OF THE PROJECT BY THOSE FOR WHOM THE PROJECT SHOULD BENEFIT •SEEK TO UNDERSTAND HOW SOCIAL CHANGE HAPPENS •DEVELOP A THEORY OF CHANGE, TEST AND ADAPT •SEEK TO UNDERSTAND THE NON-LINEARITY OF PROJECTS AND TRY TO LOOK AT INTERVENTIONS THROUGH THE LENS OF COMPLEX ADAPTIVE SYSTEMS