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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