Wednesday, May 15, 2013

No more waterfalls, only trial and learning

This blog was posted by Guy Janssen

Supporting civil society always is about empowerment, i.e. enabling choices and turning choices into action and results. (World Bank definition)

The traditional project cycle approach (plan, execute, evaluate, and plan something else) (AKA as waterfall cycle) is too directive to allow choice and self-initiated action by civil society.


Alternatives have been defined by different sources but they are all based on the same principle: The world is too complex to plan (too much), outcomes are achieved through trial and learning.

Old funding, planning and control mechanisms are still obstructing this new way of working in some development organisations but the trend is unmistakable. Below are a number of sources that are advocating for a try-learn approach:

  1. Problem Driven Iterative Adaptations (Social Development) 
  2. Adaptive Strategy (Non-Profit Management) 
  3. An arm's length approach to aid (International Development) 
  4. Mapping Context for Social Accountability (International Development) 
  5. Agile Programming (Software Development) 
  6. Evolutionary Change (US Military) 
  7. Great Businesses Don't Start With a Plan (or maybe a small plan) (Business Development) 
  8. Agile Reform (Blowing my own trumpet)

If anyone knows other sources, please add. If you think some sources do not belong in this list, please ask to remove.