Ramalingam et al. (2008), describe development plans, strategies and goal setting as ‘attempts to picture how things work in that country and provide an illusion of control’. The reality, however, is that development is not a straight input-output-outcome-impact motorway, but a road with curves and crossings in a changing landscape.
Linear logic, however, remains attractive as we tend to define rules and simplify reality so that the world seems less random than it actually is (Taleb, 2008). Project management approaches help to simplify reality and, if their limitations are recognised, can be useful in implementing development strategies.
This ODI Opinion examines policy research and argues that project management can actually help, rather than hinder, researchers in efforts to manage policy influencing projects effectively. I show how this can be achieved by combining project management principles and processes with the RAPID Outcome Mapping Approach.