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MLD 102: 2014Class 11, October 8, 2014 Context: What Matters and How Does it Impact Getting Things Done? Matt Andrews Harvard Kennedy School.

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Presentation on theme: "MLD 102: 2014Class 11, October 8, 2014 Context: What Matters and How Does it Impact Getting Things Done? Matt Andrews Harvard Kennedy School."— Presentation transcript:

1 MLD 102: 2014Class 11, October 8, 2014 Context: What Matters and How Does it Impact Getting Things Done? Matt Andrews Harvard Kennedy School

2 So far We have gaps in many development interventions – Where implementation does not happen We have many strategies/tools to close these gaps – Both policies and management mechanisms Management tools: Mostly classical administrative and NPM But the gaps fester, despite the tools – Often because new policies/reforms are introduced on paper to appear good but do not reach functionality PDIA offers an approach to address this – Especially for complex challenges; where context matters…. Consider Malaysia and BF again – form-≠-function-part-313/

3 PDIA is a way of finding and fitting policy/reform solutions within context Context matters a lot But what matters, and how does it matter? Let’s go to today’s case – Crowdfunding in the USA; especially commercial real estate – A policy intervention that came from civic roots, through Congress, to the administration And then stalled (at least part of it) – Why? What can we learn about contextual impediments to change?

4 Let’s discuss your thoughts, as per class preparation

5 We can develop really large lists for this and other contexts Congressional politics, past ways of thinking and regulating, capacity in government to regulate, capacity of private actors to operate acc. to rules, bureaucratic politics, lobby groups, influence of individuals, and more Elements of the icebergs that stand in the way of our new shiny policy ships! Ready to sink our great intentions and ideas! You need to choose what you look at to make any sense of this – Manning looks at capacity and will (essentially) – in asking about management systems ‘fit’ What should we be looking at the effectively make sense of contextual readiness for change?

6 My work asks: what contextual factors matter for change Given we are dealing with complex tasks and don’t know the precise type of change we are dealing with… Four factors to look at, emphasized in theory and research: – What is there already? (incumbent policies or systems) How embedded is it? (does it take all the capacity, drive behavior and considerations of ‘what is appropriate’?) – What alternatives exist? (and what are they…maybe not the external solution you first imagined?) How legitimate are they? (does anyone know if they work and has anyone developed the capacities needed to make them work?) – What are the agency alignments? Do you have any support for a change? How does this support differ to the support for the status quo? – What ‘disruptions’ exist to make change necessary? Are there any conditions evident that could push people to change?

7 Basic rules of looking into context The more disruption, the greater the scope for change The weaker incumbents, the greater scope for change The more legitimate new alternatives, the greater the scope for change The more power and agency is aligned behind the new alternatives, the greater the scope for change Notice that all four factors are variables in your finding and fitting strategy: It matters what you find when you start in a context, but it also matters how you work with these factors to create space for change

8 (Especially) if your challenge is complex, the context will determine what you can do (some simple ideas); but you can work with your context as well Harvard Kennedy School, MLD Matt Andrews Make the context ready: Challenge incumbents; introduce alternatives; mobilize agents; Point to disruption Exploit the readyness: Weaken and push out incumbents; formalize and routinize alternatives; support agents; Use disruption

9 This is just a framework But one which matters, given how poorly context is often considered in development – Because of ‘cargo cult’ mentalities – And pressures to do work in a ‘Big Stuck’ manner – And because the context is really hard to see (the iceberg problem) You need to develop your own approach to thinking about contextual factors and how they matter – Because they do matter And you need to take them into consideration if you want to ‘get things done’

10 Next class…problems as entry points to tough contexts How do we ‘see’ these contextual factors? – Especially the things that lie below the surface? PDIA promotes the idea of doing analysis; but also of engaging in the context through problems: – You get some sense of disruption, point at incumbents as the reason for this, offer alternatives, mobilize some agency to move – And you get a window onto what’s going on – And a flushing mechanism To reveal what is not seen In an iterative manner


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