Towards a better future state – improving the socioeconomic landscape through data informed transformation – part 4 (Going Agile with Artefacts to aid scalability)

Application of DSDM ATERN to design and deliver innovative Agile international development programmes Somewhere in the beginning of this journey we uncovered our own transformation and that it remains continuous; from people of the fence to a vocal opposition, off the fence and in the thick of it, putting our talent and resources where our mouth is;  designing, engineering and delivering programmes that work, are measurable, repeatable, evolving with increasingly positive and verifiable results. Analysing analogs and antilogs, experimenting, failing and revisiting the drawing board on multiple programmes at times concurrently, at times all consumed by what can be engineered in society using Agile methods to experiment in situ.

Prototyping where prototyping is seldom conducted, taking every opportunity to learn, adapt, apply, measure, rinse and repeat. Running lean, delivering social development programmes on fumes, a startup of sorts with quantifiable social good and spiritual food as our return on investment.

Given our cross cultural, global ambitions means the design process has to be agile with standardised artefacts to ease knowledge transfer between cross cultural teams and adapted to new environments effectively with the same or similar level of efficacy.  Navigating unchartered waters albeit with considerable experience of having delivered very different transformational programmes in large organisations.

Be it the Mini-MBA programme or Urban farming cooperatives, every programme is broken into components and delivered using methodologies best suited for the nature of the individual component, whilst being Agile. We are in a hurry remember, gotta fix whats broken and fast.

Being a practitioner and evangelist of Agile in its different guises it was a no brainer to adopt DSDM Atern here. A major consideration remains scaling the programmes via the international development community; to achieve scale beyond our very humble means requires adoption of our programmes by the behemoths of international development; USAID, JICA, DFID, Minhaj-ul-QuranAga Khan Development Network and the likes of. Though I have my doubts if they could do things as we do… the systems scientist in me says with the right artefacts and training this is repeatable with similar results; they can replicate our programmes and processes, the pragmatist in me says it requires a paradigm shift that is hard for these organisations to contemplate let alone deliver on.

In context effective repeatability entails creating the programmes and documenting the processes in a language these not so Agile organisations understand, can relate to and adopt without having to re-learn or re-engineer. More importantly grass root teams who may not be familiar with Agile at all can pick up and fly with it, we have already proven that they can in South Punjab, KPK and are now doing so in Karachi. With that outcome in mind DSDM Atern was a natural choice for the design process of the programme it self, not so much its delivery. For delivery the teams have been trained in and adapted SCRUM, Kanban and a variety of modelling techniques borrowed from digital marketing, digital strategy development and LEAN… the details of which are for the next post.

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Urban Farming in Karachi

Zulfiqar_Karachi_Urban_Farmer2013Nov

seasonal veggies for the winter in the bedding outside the house are sprouting up

Karachiites and visitors to it are well aware that green spaces / vegetation cover in Karachi is very  limited. Total vegetation cover in Karachi as of 2008 is estimated to at 62,643 acres, at 7% of the total land area of 907,001 acres… it is appalling! and whatever little green spaces are around are disappearing fast, if its not the land mafia its successive bureaucrats who leave their mark by undoing whatever little good their predecessors managed to do.

So with this backdrop there is much song and dance when yuppies of Karachi plant tomatoes in a pot! but there is little celebration of the rural workers who are putting their farming skills to good use in the city having moved to urban centres in search of a better life.

urban farming in Karachi

radishes, lettuce and rocket in the terrace bedding

Zulfiqar is one such urban farmer, having moved from Baltistan in the north some 11 years ago. On arrival the shy introverted 16 year old went about making use of the bedding and whatever spare space he could find in the garden at mum’s house in Karachi.

It was only recently that a confident young man who now speaks English has an email address and sends me pictures of his green exploits on his Chinese manufactured Android phone brought his urban farm to my attention.. that too having overheard the praised bestowed on a friend for being a recent convert to urban farming  Zulfiqar commented ‘no big deal sir, we grow our own tomatoes, lettuce, peas, radishes, potatoes and rocket, we have for many years’. This post is to celebrate Zulfiqar the urban farmer, who religiously prepares the beddings for each season, utilises every possible space he can without getting into trouble with the gardner (who seems redundant with Zulfiqar around!)

As for Zulfiqar’s answer to the silly question of why…’it keeps me close to home…’ he says. Once a farmer I guess always a farmer.

AWESOME work Zulfiqar and keep your pics coming and I shall keep you folks updated on his green exploits in the concrete jungle of Karachi.

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Britain’s place in the world after UK Parliament’s historic ‘No’ vote for war

Time for Great Britain to go to class on the Syrian conflict  Great_Britain_2013_1 Cameron, Osborne, Nick and the minority of our Parliament did not quite get what Britain said to them with a NO vote for going to war with Syria. George Osborne thinks “…there will be a national soul-searching about our role in the world and whether Britain wants to play a big part in upholding the international system, be that a big open and trading nation that I’d like us to be or whether we turn our back on that,” To the contrary I’d argue Britain found its soul! an independent mature soul that no longer wishes to tow the line wherever it may take us, instead puts the will of the British people / common sense and the good of the world first! Britain has a heritage and depth of experience that is unparalleled in the western world when it comes to dealing with foreign cultures and conflicts, and it is the elder statesmen in Britain that needs to put the right foot forward and lead the world in resolving the Syrian crisis. Britain should reinvigorate the dialogue to resolve the conflict… which means Cameron and William Hague need to do some soul searching themselves. David Cameron, Nick Clegg, George Osborne and William Hague – do you still want to align yourselves with Saudi, Qatari and Turkish interests or are you now ready to put Britain’s interests first. In my some what simplistic opinion my government needs to work with the United Nations and seal the Syrian borders, preventing the flow of arms to Saudi/Qatari/Turkish backed Al-Qaeda terrorists as well as to the Syrian national army (from Iran) – thereby starving all sides of ammunition. Enforce international law on Syria’s borders. Play the role of the mature state. Table a resolution at the United Nations to place embargoes on Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and Iran for financing international terrorism, which all of these countries are guilty of. PeaceTHroughProsperity_At_NOWAR_Rally_2013_Aug At the same time work with the Russians to contain Iran and Hezbollah, work with the United States to contain Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey. This will get all sides to the table for dialogue. Russian’s are not fools, we have been talking peace with them for Syria whilst turning a blind eye to Saudi, Qatar and Turkey providing arms to the Al-Qaeda terrorists in Syria, time to play fair Mr Cameron and stop looking both ways. The eventual solution may be dismemberment of Syria, it may be free and fair elections to unite Syria… or it may be something else but whatever it is, it can only be explored and arrived at through dialogue in the right environment for dialogue. Britain can take the high ground on the table of elders by playing the game of an elder statesmen; and that is Britain’s soul.

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Peace Through Prosperity a year on…

Peace Through Prosperity Almost a year since a few of us set off in hope of bringing peace through prosperity, almost three since fewer still woke up to take tiny steps towards an elusive goal in a sh*t storm of hate, what seemed beyond reach seems further still, the reality of this struggle has set in and strengthened our resolve even more. OooRah.

We have learned a great deal, taught a little and stumbled a lot. Have fought hard for a beach head, dug our first trench and set our sights on the banks and beyond. There are moments where it all comes together, then falls apart only to come back together again.

We have found friends amongst strangers and strangers amongst friends, found cowards amongst giants and brave amongst the meek, been hope, found hope, saw hope; the mojo of audacity; tangible, delivered, promised or illusive… it keeps us going in all its forms. We have come across more than our fair share of asses on all sides in all guises and have built up an apetite to claw past numerous more.

Banded together a team; a year travelled and a ready for a 100 more.

It could have been harder, could have been short lived, could have been many things less than it is if not for you… who have supported us thus far in many ways all awesomely enormous… Thank you.

@BringPTP #Peace #Prosperity #Poverty #PovertyAlleviation #Enterprise #Entrepreneurship #Founders #Hope #Development #WHAM

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