Tag Archives: international development

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

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 […]

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A theoretical approach to Value for Money in aid & development: Optimizing research and design for ‘best fit’ iterative programming

Last year, I briefly touched upon this concept as an approach to cost effective programme design that was still flexible enough to provide room for iteration for best fit. Today, I want to explore the concept further to evaluate its potential as a framework for incorporating the concurrent shift in development thinking towards Value for […]

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Systemic design thinking and complex adaptive systems

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 […]

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UNDP’s 2017 Report: Universalism and Human Development

Though I’ve often deconstructed a variety of reports released by private sector actors like management consultancies, and public sector institutions like the UNCTAD or World Bank, I’ve never been moved to write about them here on the blog. Last night, using the twitter hashtag #UNDP2017, I went through their recently released 2017 issue of the […]

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It’s way past the time to consider the Informal Economy as a distinct commercial environment

Regardless of continent, it is now high time we accepted the informal economy (unformal or unrecognised or unorganized sectors) as a commercial operating environment in its own right. The continued oversight is rapidly coalescing into a gaping void of hiccups and failures, by large companies, non profit institutions, and startups, alike. This issue goes far […]

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The importance of user agency for good design in the humanitarian and development context

This is a topic that has come up so often on Twitter that I thought to write it out once and for all. A link would be ever so much easier to argue with than to make the case for recognizing the agency of the end user – whether an intended customer or beneficiary – […]

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

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 […]

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

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 […]

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Pivoting from “best practice” to “best fit”: An interdisciplinary perspective

There has been an evolution in thinking about development practice. Buckley and Ward (2015) found a broad consensus for a shift from a ‘best-practice paradigm’ (Chambers 2011) to one of ‘best fit’ — that is, development interventions that are ‘optimally adapted’ to the socioeconomic, political and ecological context at any given moment (Ramalingam et al. […]

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The formal sector and economic development: A lesson from marketing

Pursuing the thoughts introduced in the previous post further, I looked up the original reference on “formalization of the informal sector”1. Alan Gelb, et al. 2009. “To Formalize or Not to Formalize? Comparisons of Microenterprise Data from Southern and East Africa.” CGD Working Paper 175 “…in East Africa, weak enforcement of tax payment and no […]

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