The execution of complex tasks requires continuous work in a problem-driven and adaptive way. At BSC, we have supported government teams to use the PDIA approach to solve complex problems over an extended period of time, with check-ins every 2-4 weeks. The regularity of this process has created the space for teams to stop, learn, reflect, adapt and act, over and over again. In our experience, the tight feedback loops between plans and actions facilitate rapid experiential learning, which often leads to the emergence of new capabilities (see our work in Honduras, Sri Lanka, Albania and Mozambique).

BSC also collaborates with other organizations to offer international training programs where groups, from regions within a country or from multiple countries, engage in a combined in-person workshop to learn the basics of PDIA. The groups then return to their countries to apply what they have learned for a period of 6-7 months and finally re-convene to share lessons and achievements (see our work on building PFM capabilities in Africa).

The following is a list of our action research projects:

group of BSC people in HondurasBuilding Capability for Policy Implementation in Honduras
Oct 2018 - December 2020

In October 2018, the Government of Honduras invited BSC to help mobilize their Delivery Facilitation Unit (DFU). In the fall of 2018, the DFU convened seven teams of officials for a 6-month work program, using the PDIA approach, focused on making visible progress on seven key problems (related to energy, agricultural exports, tourism, access to capital for SMEs, and the business climate). In this model, the members of the DFU sit in as coaches for multi-agency teams of government agents (which could also include members of the private sector and civil society). The work—and credit for work—is done by career administrators with active authorization from their ministers and other authorizers. [Read more]

Matt AndrewsBuilding PFM Capabilities in Africa
April 2017 - January 2019

In April 2017, BSC began its engagement with CABRI, an intergovernmental organization based in South Africa, to build capability for Public Financial Management (PFM) reform in Africa. BSC provided an action based learning course on using the PDIA approach to solve locally nominated PFM problems. This program included online modules/assignments and in-person workshop training. Six country teams completed the eight month intensive training program in 2017 and six country teams completed the program in 2018. [Read more]

Matt Andrews Sri LankaBuilding Capability for Economic Transformation in Sri Lanka
May 2016 - September 2017

During the period from May 2016 to September 2017, BSC engaged with the Government of Sri Lanka through financial support from the Open Society Foundations, to help develop capabilities to improve the business climate, target new industries, promote new export activities, engage new anchor investors, and strengthen their tourism offerings. The main government counterparts were the Board of Investment (BOI), Export Development Board (EDB), and the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA). A group of 64 Sri Lankan government officials, from 7 different ministries/agencies, worked across 8 cross-sector PDIA teams to successfully complete this program. In addition, the BSC team offered an 18-week experiential online course for selected Sri Lankan diplomats on the topic of economic diplomacy. The 39 diplomats who successfully completed the course, managed to establish actual contact with over 267 new firms—potential targets for FDI or new export promotion. [Read more]

BSC Project in AlbaniaBuilding the Capability to Implement a Growth Strategy in Albania
May 2014 - June 2017

During the period from May 2014 to June 2017, BSC engaged with the Government of Albania through financial support from the Open Society Foundations, to build the capabilities to implement their growth strategy. BSC began by establishing Black Belt Teams (BBTs) across government, where groups of public servants tackled projects and policies of importance to the country’s growth agenda. The BBTs identified and deconstructed local problems, pursued a repeated set of time-sensitive tasks to address the problems, worked step-by-step across organizational boundaries to solve them, and facilitated progress, change, and lessons about ‘what works’. The iterative process of meeting regularly to learn from the experiences, and to decide on next steps, helped facilitate efficient and effective problem solving. Over the period of 3 years, the BSC team trained and supported a total of 131 government officials, in 10 ministries and agencies, working across 20 teams—allowing cross fertilization of ideas and the emergence of new solutions, relationships and capabilities. [Read more]

Scales of JusticeLearning from doing PDIA in Mozambique's Judicial Sector 
April - December 2013
During the period from April to December 2013, BSC engaged with Mozambique’s judicial sector to examine how a PDIA approach could (1) flush out the contextual factors that often limit reform success, (2) provide a viable route to find and fit reforms that actually foster greater functionality, and (3) promote the authority needed to ensure change is implemented and institutionalized. The work involved two local coaches working with a group of government officials under the auspices of the Minister of Justice, to find and fit solutions to data access problems that undermined management in the judicial sector. This intervention was chosen partly because prior multimillion-dollar projects focused on addressing the same problem had either failed or stalled, ostensibly because of contextual constraints that the reform designers did not foresee. These past projects provided a counterfactual against which to compare the PDIA-type approach. [Read more]