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 aid has significant unintended negative[…]

A very bold alternative

“What is this feedback thing all about?” I‘m hearing this question more and more as the word about feedback in social change is spreading. I say that it is about transformational change, though it works incrementally. I say that it is about listening and connecting with people, that it amounts to a fundamental reorientation in[…]

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 of how we organize to[…]

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 huge chasms. This post is[…]

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 the values of another founder[…]

Responding to the sound of (mostly) silence

Out of the blue, we sent you, our clients, partners and friends, a short survey that asked what you think about us. Here’s what you told us. Firstly, you told us that an out of the blue survey is not the right way to do this. Ninety-two of you responded, for an overall response rate[…]

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 various technical names but boil[…]

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 what would emerge because, “Trump[…]

Constituent feedback – the revolution is coming

For a decade one of my standard introductions to our work has been, “The voices of those meant to benefit from our work is the most neglected important piece of the impact measurement puzzle. Not the only important piece, but the most neglected important piece.” After that past three weeks, I may have to change[…]

A spy in the house of love

Keystone’s Chief Executive David Bonbright delivered the talk below at IMPCON 2016 in Atlanta. Despite the striking resemblance, this is not an engraving of Jeremy Nicholls. It is William Blake’s depiction of Isaac Newton. Staying with this theme of artistic perspectives on measurement, I have borrowed from the writer Anais Nin for the title of[…]