Doing development differently: who we are, what we're doing and what we're learning

Bibliography and literature reviews
December 2016
Leni Wild, Matt Andrews, Jamie Pett and Helen Dempster

In November 2014, the doing development differently community got together at Harvard to discuss what successful development interventions look like. Two years on, our community is broader than aid. It's broader than donors. It's about all organisations delivering change, producing real solutions to real problems that have real impact. It's about building trust, empowering people and promoting sustainability.

Over the past two years, the community has been putting these ideas into practice across the world – being honest about what we are learning, including where we are not getting things right.

This document aims to be an entry point for anyone interested in doing development differently. It explores the things that could be stopping you, including:

  • You are constrained by a disabling environment.
  • You have strict reporting requirements.
  • People aren't sold on the idea.
  • It's easier to do things the way you've always done it.
  • It's difficult to do in practice.

If you are facing one, several, or all of these constraints, this document gives you a place to start. Using 43 case studies from practitoners within donors, governments, implementing organisations and NGOs across the globe, we aim to draw out some key lessons learnt, and give some advice for people considering this approach. These case studies are split across five categories:

  • Swimming against the tide.
  • Working in and with government.
  • Feedback loops and data.
  • Organisational change.
  • Diffusion.

Finally, if you want to know more, the document concludes with a suggested list of blogs and reports which explain these concepts in more detail.