For our latest LearnAdapt workshop, over ninety development practitioners and researchers gathered to discuss how adaptive management and constituent engagement can be fruitfully linked. This event built on a new ODI working paper on the topic.

The paper highlights five elements, and in breakout discussions of each element the following takeaways emerged.


It takes long-term commitment to build the trust and relationships needed to have meaningful engagements. Teams can go beyond ticking the box and use co-creation and participatory small grant processes. For example, Root Change shared that, for Social Labs Malawi, challenges were identified by local leaders and experiments…

What can adaptive approaches from other sectors teach development practitioners about dealing with uncertainty?

In early October, we gathered to explore this question, aiming to move beyond dogmatic ideas and confusing language to share what works in practice. The event built on a recent ODI working paper which translates key principles from agile, lean startup and human-centred design to the development sector.

In case you missed the workshop, or would like to see it again, you can watch the videos below.

Part 1: Introduction

First off, I gave a rapid introduction to agile, lean startup and human-centred design. I suggest that practitioners should…

How do software developers, entrepreneurs, service designers and development practitioners embrace uncertainty, understand user needs, work things out as they go and move fast?

Adaptive approaches are used in several sectors. The origins of adaptive approaches tend to involve a shared recognition of failure to grapple with complexity and uncertainty and a rejection of linear planning and copying solutions from different contexts.

These are, in effect, processes to keep teams humble, counteracting misplaced certainty that we understand the context and that we know what the problem really is, and we know how to solve it. They give structure and rigour…

The banner for the recent LearnAdapt workshop

A lot has changed in the world in the past few months and development programmes have been quick to respond. How can we balance our need to respond to a crisis with our long-term goals for systemic change?

2020 is a year of constant urgency and crisis. As the aid sector simultaneously responds to Covid-19, the Black Lives Matter movement, the merger of DFID and the FCO and more, teams have had to be responsive and flexible to reach hard to access groups and ensure immediate needs are met.

Over the summer there was a (relative) slowing down, giving us…

Screenshot from the end of the recent Adapting to Covid webinar, hosted by me and Emma Proud

In recent weeks, I’ve been in some wonderful meetings that were better because they were online. Taking away the need to be in the same physical place means we can bring people together who wouldn’t normally meet. And if we’re smart about it, we can enable greater participation and a more engaging experience for all attendees.

I’ve learnt that the key is to be intentional. Making choices together about the why, who, what, how, and when of the meeting is even more important when you’re not together in person.

Jamie Pett

Facilitation, complexity, learning and network weaving. Board Co-chair @ RESULTS UK .Founder @ LondonLIDN. Associate Director @ Curiosity Society. he/his/him

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