Tag Archives: design for complex adaptive systems

Resilience of informal urban food systems: Does a systems thinking approach make a difference?

By | June 3, 2021

Sterk, van de Leemput, and Peeters (2017) help me start off this sensemaking exercise by clearly distinguishing the difference between engineering resilience and ecological resilience with respect to a system. This was useful to establish the direction of exploration for informal urban food systems. Specifically, Sterk et al (2017) state that ‘engineering’ resilience  focuses on… Read More »

The Mobile as a Post Industrial Platform for Social and Economic Development: Top 3 Trends in Africa

By | September 11, 2018

Just over a decade ago, in San Jose, California, I was invited to speak as the Closing Plenary for the CHI 2007 25th Anniversary Conference. The theme was “Reach Beyond”, as this was the 25th Anniversary conference of the Computer Human Interaction society, and as the closing plenary, I was tasked with articulating the vision… Read More »

Trading economics: a new theoretical system

By | February 3, 2018

From the Financial Times, a snippet from a guest post by Wang Zhenying, director-general of the research and statistics department at the PBoC’s Shanghai head office and vice chairman of the Shanghai Financial Studies Association, summarising the arguments in his new Chinese-language textbook on economics. “Trading economics” is one new theory emerging against this backdrop.… Read More »

TEDTalk video: Recognizing the value creation and economic contribution of the informal economy

By | November 24, 2017

My talk given at the TEDGlobal conference in Arusha, this August, went live on Ted.com at some point during the night a couple of days ago. At that very moment, I was on a Finnair flight from SIN to HEL, so with a wee bit of delay, here’s the link to the video of the… Read More »

Systemic design thinking and complex adaptive systems

By | May 20, 2017

Going back to first principles has been a refreshing exercise. Even as our work has taken us into some wholly new places, there’s comfort in knowing that others have thought deeply about the concepts, though not in our context. I’m a firm believer in not re-inventing the wheel. Consider it a working prototype to be… Read More »

How the African movable assets bill can unleash innovation opportunities for the rural economy

By | May 13, 2017

As Kenya joins Zambia and Zimbabwe in ratifying a Movable Property Security Rights Act, there’s a sense that the floodgates to innovation in access to finance might be taking place in rural Africa, south of the Sahara and north of South Africa. Kenya’s law also goes beyond the cows and goats and allows a borrower… Read More »

India: Dragging the reluctant elephant into a digital, cashless future

By | March 29, 2017

My recent immersion in Delhi a mere four months after demonetization (or, notebandi as it’s locally known) was a bit of a letdown. Oh sure, there were numerous, visible changes in the 2 years since my last trip – mostly very clear indicators of India’s socio-economic development – but none of the sense of chaos… Read More »

Unforeseen outcomes of India’s demonetization shine light on the value of our design philosophy

By | November 28, 2016

Latest news on India’s demonetization informs us how the rural economy is bearing the brunt of this initiative. The action was intended to target wealthy tax evaders and end India’s “shadow economy”, but it has also exposed the dependency of poor farmers and small businesses on informal credit systems in a country where half the… Read More »

Part 2: Enabling development’s paradigm shift from ‘best practice’ to ‘best fit’

By | July 23, 2016

Programming in International Development jumps directly into the Design phase of the projects. This is the root of the challenge they face now as they seek to change the paradigm away from ‘best practice’ to putting the end users at the center of their strategies, with ‘best fit’. I identified this problem in the Autumn… Read More »

An Interdisciplinary Approach to “Best Fit” for International Development: Process and Tools

By | July 20, 2016

This post follows on from the previous one which introduced the concept of a ‘best fit’ approach to the ‘wicked problems’ in development. There I posited that consumer facing private enterprises looking at the African market would benefit from considering Development’s thought-leadership in this regard, given their experience in the challenging operating environments of the… Read More »