The real work – day four of the social lab in Malawi

The main objective of the fourth and final day of the Rumphi Social Lab design workshop was the formation of micro-action teams to take forward seven ‘big ideas’ to improve development in Rumphi.  The teams did indeed form (and merge down to five), and lists of ‘key assumptions that must[…]

Can social labs save development?

Foreign aid in Malawi is as much as 50% of the national budget. This startling fact poses a paradox that haunts Malawi and all aid dependent countries. On the one hand, aid is desperately needed to finance essential services like health, education, and agriculture development. On the other hand, foreign[…]

Coming through denial

This month’s annual Feedback Summit in Washington DC has been chronicled by journalist Marc Gunther as the moment where we recognized that we have arrived, and asked first order questions.  In my blog post last week I said that I thought we had, collectively, set our intention for fundamental transformation[…]

Moment of choice

Last week’s Feedback Summit was, for me at least, a watershed event. It was the third time our emerging field had come together at an annual gathering. Despite the inevitable consternation that accompanies wide-ranging diversity of expectations, experience and perspectives, I believe that we made two leaps forward over two[…]

Democracy is alive

Last month I attended a very British event at the London School of Economics. A hundred or so of us gathered in the Shaw Library, named after George Bernard Shaw, one of the founders of LSE. We were invited there by the Webb Memorial Trust, a charity dedicated to advance[…]

Those Low Response Rates

Surveys are a double-edged sword. It is useful, irresistibly so, to be able to assert something that is supported by survey results. Most of us are enthralled by this sirens’ call – I certainly am! But at the same time, surveys are riddled with two kinds of distortions. These have[…]

The Trumpian crisis for civil society – and an opportunity

In March last year New York Times opinion writer David Brooks argued that the Republican Party was at a Kuhnian “model crisis” moment in a historical transition from the Reagan orthodoxy to something new that would be born out of the Trumpian disruption. He noted that Trump would not determine[…]