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Episode 3: Interview with Dave Snowden

We have just published this interview with Dave Snowden under our Podcast page.

In this episode, Marcus Jenal interviews Dave Snowden. The podcast explores the recognition that development takes place in a dynamic, complex system and the resulting consequences for monitoring and evaluation frameworks. Current monitoring and evaluation frameworks are built around predefined outcomes and based on assumptions of causal, linear, and attributable connections between a project’s activities and changes at its outcome and impact levels.

Based on complex systems research, these assumptions tend not to reflect the reality of complex systems, such as markets or communities. Dave Snowden introduces emerging theories and tools that allow us to embrace complexity and manage development projects in a way that adapts to realities in complex systems. He discusses possible ways to design monitoring systems, and provides guidance on project design that is informed by scientific research in the field of complex systems.

This episode is part of the Systemic M&E series and was produced in partnership with the SEEP Network.

What does ‘systemic’ actually mean?

“We need more systemic approaches!” This claim has gained some traction in the development world. Everybody is talking about how to make development approaches more ‘systemic’. A quick internet research reveals quite a number of results related to development organizations: USAIDUSAIDCGAPGIZ,  GIZGIZ, and SDC. Continue reading

Episode 2: Interview with Shamim Bodhanya

In the episode Marcus interviews Dr. Shamim Bodhanya. The podcast explores the origins of complex adaptive systems research and the application of its findings to development work. Bodhanya explains the characteristics of complex adaptive systems and their consequences in social systems such as the economy. He stresses the need to include multiple perspectives to develop a systemic view on markets and allow for solutions from within the system to involve rather than prescribe top-down solutions. In this sense, he points out, development project need to be co-constructed by multiple stakeholders. Project goals should not be predefined and be flexible enough to be able to change as the project traverses though time.

This episode was produced in partnership with the SEEPnetwork.

What is Complexity?

Our work in economic development is generally taking place in complex systems. But what, exactly, does complexity mean? In their award winning article titled “A Leader’s Framework for Decision Making“, published in the Harvard Business Review in November 2007, David Snowden and Mary Boone feature a box in which they describe the main characteristics of complex systems. I found this to be a very comprehensive and yet understandable description an that’s why I want to share it here. Continue reading

First episode of Systemic Insight podcast series is available

The first episode of the Systemic Insight podcast series is available for download on the podcast page. In this first episode we set the scene for the series. We look at what we mean with systems thinking and how it relates to economic development. The topic of complexity is also introduced in a basic way.