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AdmittingFailure Theory of Change

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Ashley Good

on 5 September 2012

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Transcript of AdmittingFailure Theory of Change

Theory of Change What Does
AF (&EWB) Do? Problem Definition Hypotheses In Summary Failing forward means more effective dev't
A shift towards failing forward is created through influence and relationships with donors, NGOs & Dorothy.
Relationships & influence are catalyzed by EWB's AP, AdmittingFailure.com and role modeling learning w/in EWB 1st Tragedy
Global Poverty is a dynamic and complex problem ("wicked") - no one knows how to solve it therefore there are failures

2nd Tragedy
Actors in the development sector need to do a better job of failing forward on why sector actors aren't failing forward Fail-ing For-ward [fey-ling fawr-werd]
1. Operating in a safe environment for testing risky innovative ideas
2. Recognizing failures early
3. Admitting failures open and honestly
4. Learning from these failures
5. Adapting actions based on the learning in order to improve upon risky innovative ideas on what would encourage sector actors to fail forward & Money is dependent on success

Public does not accept failure

Development work usually involves, and therefore implicates, many people with different perceptions of failure/success

Delusion, Success Bias, differing definitions of success

Project hierarchy and the patriarchical nature of development

People who understand the system well enough aren't encouraged to change it or innovate within it

There are few incentives to recognize and admit failures Donors who genuinely want to understand where projects can improve and so ask to hear failures and reward honesty and learning

A public opinion push for smart aid, honesty and learning

Tools and resources to help communicate failures and encourage failing forward

A community of leading actors who role model the effectiveness of the failing forward (on an individual and organisation level ) approach and define what smart aid really is

Local ownership over outcomes

Rewards for trying new ideas and communicating learning, for field workers in particular

Create public demand for, and heavily reward, honesty Assumptions If donors ask for failure it will have a domino effect and the "searcher approach" will spread through the chain of actors
The community will police the fundamentals of 'smart aid'
Public will support more complex messaging around dev't work
Actors are willing to accept perceived risk if public doesn't welcome new messaging
The perception of failure can be changed widely
Tools exist or can be developed which will help address constraints to failing forward
There are enough NGOs who want to be apart of this change to form an influential community
Visibility on the website will serve to brand organizations as being at the leading edge of learning and innovation in development
Donors want to fund risky innovative projects
NGOs want to implement risky innovative projects
Development effectiveness will improve by learning from innovative risky projects
There are more I'm sure... Build relationships and dialogue with donors that encourages them to ask for failure from those they fund
Help donors fund risky innovative projects through the website
Work with development experts to inform smart aid message/key failure modes
Change the discourse on dev't through the website, talks, interviews, social media, etc.
Find and collect resources that are accessible on an open-sources basis on the website
Pilot learning within EWB - be a role model for failing forward
Build a community of leading organisations who fail forward and implement risky innovative projects promoted and funded through the website
Write a failure report that incorporates accountability and learns from African perspectives
Support local ownership of outcomes within our Africa Programs
Support capacity building, behaviour change and business development within EWB's Africa Programs
Encourage the general public to demand honesty through discussions on the website, talks, interviews, social media, etc.
Help actors in the sector reward failing forward through relationships and tools Resources for addressing constraints to FF
1. Top Ten Failure Modes
2. Articles & Blogs on
Changing perception of failure
How to communicate failure (characterize vs. blame)
Understanding and encouraging praise worthy failures from the top down
Principles of learning org
Iterative Design Theory
3. Community building/collaboration through open-source wiki
Honest accountability tools (e.g. story teller)
Example incentives for making projects better from ground up
Organizational and Personal learning tools
Full transcript