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 Sri Lanka, Albania).
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 with CABRI).
The following is a list of our action research projects:
Building PFM Capabilities in Africa
April - December 2017
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 provides an action based learning course on using the PDIA approach to solve locally nominated PFM problems. This program includes online modules/assignments, in-person workshop training and virtual as well as in-person coaching. A group of 40 public servants, working in teams from Ghana, Liberia, Lesotho, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, South Africa and The Gambia, successfully completed the training program in December 2017. [Read more]
Building 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]
Building 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]
Learning 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]