Turning Development on its Head!

OILD is dedicated to building the innovative operating approaches that systematically achieve sustainable development. The key lies in facilitating local leaders and practitioners to take charge of their own development – so they can learn how to make it work – and reformatting the government and donor inputs from outside each "grassroots-connected" region, so they can also get huge benefits in increased results and lowered costs from participating in this new mechanism.

Our “head on the ground” approach needs much less resource per development result than the more expensive and less effective "head in the clouds" model in use now. Why? Because it targets needs holistically, builds learning locally and avoids expensive parallel donor infrastructures which (while liberally sprinkled with good intentions) usually add little value.

We know how to make all this work in practice. In African regions we facilitate building the sustainable mechanisms that operate the new framework for development. We work with regional leaders and practitioners to assess a region’s readiness, and plan how, in coordinated stages, to move it from where it is to full development sustainability.

We also assess donor effectiveness, make recommendations and work with donors and NGOs to implement the changes they need to become genuinely customer driven. This creates a much more compelling story for donor development - those who pioneer these innovative approaches are making step changes in effectiveness. This also means they will grow the fastest.

Developing country partners we work with include Kabarole Research and Resource Centre - a leading African Civil Society, Mountains of the Moon University - a groundbreaking African regional community college, and of course all national host governments.

We are also building a list of best practice donors and NGOs whom we connect to the regions - ones eager to support this new model of giving the information to the customers, to help them configure, choose and lead. Population Media Center and the International Food Policy Research Institute are examples of 'early adopters'.

Progress reports, plus insights and comments on our activities, will be posted for your review and feedback. Please download documents, add your comments to a posting, or contact us if we can help. All the better if you think you can play a role! The email address is john.oild@gmail.com

10 June 2008

How did we approach the research?

The aim in 2006-07 was to learn enough to see if any corporate development principles could help create greater success. One tool used to assess development processes involves gather and characterizing the “voice of the customer” to surface deeper insights to guide the design of product and service responses. Treating the rural villagers as the true “customers”, that approach was used to find out how all the development initiatives are meeting their needs. Of course we also spoke with leaders, politicians, civil societies, donors, and other experts, seeking their perspective on the same questions, and their roles in the process.

Never expecting it to be perfect, it was still shocking to see how much of the development money goes to waste in various way, and how much of the activity actually does local damage. It teaches bad practices and reduces confidence, by creating plans that don’t work, glimpses of progress that cannot be sustained and systemmatically strengthening a dependency mentality. Frankly, the African “customers” would usually be better off without the ‘help’. Most development aid is effectively just "charity" for people who work in the development chain. It is very sad - many people are working quite hard and want to do the right thing, but from their position it is hard to change the way it works to make it more effective. We were often reminded of Upton Sinclair's quote which Al Gore cites in An Inconvenient Truth: "It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it."

The research trip went much further than expected. As well as learning a lot, as we neared the end of a discussion with over 70 regional leaders and development practitioners which we facilitated in a new Ugandan university, we were pulled into planning a possible project with them to create a ‘breakthrough’ approach to empower the region to develop much more rapidly, cost-effectively and sustainably. And this was not based on them thinking we brought any incremental funding – we made it clear we came with empty pockets!

Since then this has progressed to agreement at a regional leaders' retreat to form a leadership group, which will focus on identified data and analytical needs, key aspects of "effective working culture" development, and building mechanisms to direct, resource and coordinate regional development programmes. Key government ministers are now working with us in support, and we have been asked to take it to other regions.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

sounds great


OILD and KRC hold the copyright to its publications and Web pages and encourage use of these materials for non-commercial purposes. Proper citation is required and modification of these materials is prohibited. Permission to make digital or hard copies of part or all of this work for personal or classroom use is usually granted without fee. A formal request should first be made to one of the two addresses below and copies should not made or distributed for profit or commercial advantage. All copies must bear this notice and full citation on the first page. Copyright for any components not owned by OILD or KRC must be honored and permission pursued with the owner of the information. These with distinct copyright will be so labeled. To copy otherwise, to republish, to post on servers, or to redistribute to lists, also requires prior specific permission.

Request permission to publish from the Communications Dept. at either:
OILD in the US - j4@lambs.net or KRC in Uganda - jmurungi@krcug.org