Group SenseMaking

This article overviews how to use the SenseMaker method to shift analysis away from external experts to project teams.  The article reflects experiences of leading teams of international NGOs and local NGOs in group analysis in Bangladesh, Indonesia and Timor-Leste. The mix of technology used by SenseMaker and social process (i.e. Robert Chambers, power reversals) can create groundedness for project implications in complex environments.  If you are interested in a simple review of SenseMaker go to Making Sense of Complexity. Robert Chambers masterfully compared the development industry to Hans Christian Anderson’s classic “The Emperor’s NewRead more

Making Sense of Complexity: Review of SenseMaker for Development

This short article reviews unique strengths and areas to be aware of when using SenseMaker for development research.  SenseMaker is a research tool designed for social complexity.  It fits a unique niche. Firstly, its indicators are easily visualized and dis-aggregated which makes it ideal for pragmatic development needs.  Secondly, answers to questions emerge from peoples’ experiences which increases trustworthiness of the data.  Thirdly, it asks questions in such a way that causes people to answer based on complexity science principlesRead more

Capability Calculation: When people choose between vital parts of being human

A capability calculation is how people make choices when faced with limits to fulfill their capabilities. Ideally in a flourishing society people have the opprotunity to fulfill all their capabilities.  All capabilities are important.  However, sometimes fulfilling one capability can put another at risk. When fulfilling one capability puts another at risk people choose which part of their personhood will increase and which will decrease.  Because capabilities are interconnected when people are forces to choose -especially below a certain threshold- allRead more

Resilience, Capabilities and Complexity: The face of bouncing-back.

Resilience is the ability for people to self-organize their capabilities and bounce-back after a shock.   The human capabilities and development approach (i.e. Sen, Nussbaum, Alkire and others) is helpful in understanding resilience in a human centered way.  Connecting capabilities to resilience leads to understanding which capabilities are most vital for people to secure in order to bounce-back and flourish.  This is different from a perspective that places economic development -Livelihood- as the ends rather than the means towards resilience.  This shift may seem subtle but it is substantialRead more

Islam, Human Capabilities and Development: A perspective from Basilan, Mindanao

Islam is important to development because it is important to people. The Islamic discourse –often defined differently by different groups- guides how people develop. This article shows that for many people Islam guides the development or lack of development of their capability domains. An understanding of Islam and development derived from the Yakan can guide development policy and practice in Mindanao as well as inform the larger Islam and development discussion. There are approximately 181,000 Yakan.  The Yakan live inRead more

Research: Grounded, Emergent and Trustworthy for Complex Environments

Grounded Theory is ideal for complex environment that need flexible, evolving, iterative and trustworthy research frameworks.  I have used grounded theory on numerous development research projects and found it to be a powerful concept. Grounded Theory is a method of analysis that ties research to peoples experience.  As the name suggests it is valuable for creating theory that emerges from context and experience.  Grounded Theory uses both qualitative and quantitative methods and theoretical sampling. “The purpose of theoretical sampling,” as Corbin andRead more

Change: Community Action and the Theory U

Development depends on people identifying potential, understanding need and creating change.  It depends on people moving from talking to action.  The tools created to do this are often not as powerful as they were during the first generation of innovators.  The forms -participatory tools- have been kept but the meaning has been lost.  The radical nature of participation has been watered down by the second -or third- generation of use.  Without the democratic ethos, participation becomes a time-consuming, often useless part of a project rather than theRead more

Who has Authority for People’s Well-being?  Mapping Citizen Action.  

This article follows the article Mapping the Means to Citizen Action.  To understand citizen voice and action we asked a variety of questions.  Our core inquiry was around: Which authority bearers give the most support to people’s well-being?  Who do people in the community go to when they face issues they can’t solve?  Which institutions provide what support?  The following tool describes one-piece of a larger project that looked at citizen voice and action. Deciding whom are the ‘authority bearers’. Read more

Mapping the Means to Citizen Action

“A crowd whose discontent has risen no higher than the level of slogans is only a crowd.  But a crowd that understands the reasons for its discontent and knows the remedies is a vital community and it will have to be reckoned with.  I would rather go before the government with two people who have a competent understanding of an issue, and who therefore deserve a hearing, than with two thousand who are vaguely dissatisfied”. –Wendell Berry, The Art ofRead more