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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Inspiring street cobblers – entrpreneurs at the sharp end

As entrepreneurs we believe in the power of ideas and ambition to change markets and economies, but what about entrepreneurs at the sharp Peace Through Prosperity end, our peers many borders, timezones, cultures and life-styles away, those who are entrepreneurs not by choice but by circumstances, like the street cobblers in Pakistan that Peace Through Prosperity (PTP) is working with.

The challenge is to change their attitudes towards their enterprise of circumstance, to inspire them, to bring forth their self belief battered by circumstance and civil society being considerably uncivil towards them!

I regularly speak to would be and nascent start-up founders, though doing so in London, Helsinki, Islamabad or Dubai is easy compared to the street cobblers, for starters the usual audience is from the tech sector embarking on an adventure of choice with ideas that if not unique are not commoditised.  When I took upon myself to be the first guest speaker at Peace Through Prosperity’s mini-MBA program for street cobblers the aim was to explore what works, what does not and what I can learn from the experience and share with future speakers to tailor the message for the audience.

The experience was humbling, stimulating, challenging and cosmic!

I was in on the 4th evening of the mini-MBA program so the hard part of changing attitudes had already been done by the PTP trainers! the street cobblers were already in ‘bigger ambition’ mode! this was humbling – it threw my preconceptions out of the window!

A short conversation with the group made it abundantly clear the cohort had been well equipped for the operational aspects of running their enterprises, the mini-MBA program had done them good! some were spot on with their new marketing strategies, others had become more adept at convincing their peers towards collective buying – a cooperative of sorts in the making! and some had their elevator pitch perfected! I got pitched a repair I did not know I needed at the end of the session!

What was lacking was uniformity, a medium to long term plan… and it made sense; the mini-MBA is designed to better equip them to work ‘in their business’ as efficient operational managers and not ‘on their business’ as strategic visionaries… and it is the latter that builds empires and the former that ensures the cash keeps flowing in process.

My topic of conversation was planning, dedicated to achieving their ambitions from a personal and commercial context….  and to break down the barriers, to let them know there is little difference between a founder who starts in a bedroom or a garage with a laptop and one who starts on the street pavement with a needle and thread.. circumstance or choice the game is the same.

Inspiring Street Cobblers – Guest Speaker Series from Peace Through Prosperity on Vimeo.

You too can get involved,  tell your friends about PTP’s work, like them on Facebook, follow them on twitter, write/contribute to their blog, do yout part to change livelihoods for the less privileged on the Rock. Its not about giving them a hand-out, its about giving them a leg-up.

On a unrelated note I realised how my  Urdu has taken a slide! came back to Blighty with a few good reads in Urdu and hope to improve my Urdu soon… before speaking to another street cobbler cohort in the future!

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Visiting the Aman Foundation

Aman Foundation Karachi This trip has been in the works for about 8 months, even though my stay in Karachi was super short I finally made it to the AMAN foundation to meet with Dr Rabbani, though we almost turned back having been stuck in traffic in Korangi for about 45 odd minutes on the way there.

I got a tour of the facilities, thank you Usman, it was most informative and refreshing!

Connecting with Dr Rabbani was delightful and given the nature of Peace Through Prosperity’s work very informative, thank you for sharing your experiences.

for those of you who don’t know about the  Aman Foundation, it is a not-for-profit trust, based and operating in Pakistan. At the core is hard skills development, that lead to increased opportunities of employability in Pakistan or in the region. AMAN works in the areas of:

Healthcare – with systems ranging from Emergency Medical Response, Community Health Workers, and Telehealth initiatives to Mother-and-Child Hospitals.Aman Foundation Karachi

Education and Skills – with a Vocational Training Institute designed to transform unemployed and untrained youth into productive members of society. THIS is what got our attention at Peace Through Prosperity (PTP).

Nutrition – with an emphasis to provide nutritious and hygienic food to school children to reduce hunger and malnutrition, simultaneously increasing enrolment and attendance.

I look forward to exploring opportunities where AMAN and PTP  can align our objectives  to be a part of the wider change together.


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Evangelising Drupal in a foreign land, am going Camping again!

Drupal Camp Ikonami Kubair Shirazee Drupal Camp Pakistan is in Lahore in less than 10 days! visa done, flights booked, logistics sorted, fired up and ready to GO.

The concept of a roaming Drupal Camp in Pakistan was ideated in England, is organised from Islamabad, has so far had speakers from six different countries and after the 30th of March would have had over 230 attendees over two events.

My involvement has had family, friends and networks in Blighty as well as Middle Earth curiosious.. the question used to be ‘Why?’ but has of late changed to  ‘How?.

‘The ‘Why?’ became a time black hole of a question to ask, for it is near impossible to shut me up once I get started on community building, the power of emerging tech in creating opportunities without boundaries, changing the rock, and why not!…. yadi yadi ya  and of course nowadays quoting from the incredible Fable of Iggy Bartholomew Mole!

When it comes to the HOW; I am lucky to have a super awesome team of Jedis in Islamabad (Drupal and otherwise!) and to know many Jedi masters from within the global Drupal community to call upon… but there is a lot more detail to it than just using the force! so here’s the summary.

First things first! Apart from the volunteered time and resources from Preston University (for the Islamabad Camp) and University of Central Punjab (for the Lahore Camp), the camp organisers (from team Ikonami) and student volunteers, the true credit has to go to the Global Drupal Community as always – without them none of this would have been possible. Thank y’all for making it possible, not once but twice! and for the upcoming camps too! thank you in advance!  and last but not least thank you Mrs Shirazee for letting me go camping in the first half of the easter break when we ought to be heading to Barca for a longer break!  you are awesome! but you already know that.

Ok before the ‘How’… a recap of the ‘Why’, and I promise to keep it succinct! 

Why Drupal Camp Pakistan (specially since I am in Blighty)!?

I am a fan of the platform and the community! its personal. I want to see OS adoption, Open Data, more transparency, efficiencies across the rock not just in Blighty! its responsible. I am an investor in a Drupal Development Centre in Islamabad,  it’s commercial. I am a social activist with a charity in Pakistan whose ethos is to nurture peace through prosperity;  emerging technologies such as Drupal offer a great opportunity to create jobs in a conflict affected developing economy with a youth bulge and high unemployment amongst the educated and uneducated alike! its spiritual!

Told ya’ it’l be succinct!

How Drupal Camp Pakistan was organised?

The hardest part was getting the speakers and trainers or so I’d thought! this however turned out to be a simpler task amongst the long list of things to be done! It was simple for the global Drupal Community is awesome at sharing their knowledge and being the cavalry where need be! The real hard part turned out to be securing academic venues and the almost impossible was getting co-organisers involved!

Being an active emerging tech community member convincing peers from the Drupal community has taken a few conversations, it the plain old adage, do unto others as you want others to do unto you, I am active in the community, I give back myself, via my companies and by encouraging my teams do the same; and the community recognises it and reciprocates… its a love fest!

The venue could have been easy had we not agreed on a golden rule; all Drupal Camps in Pakistan under our watch shall be held at Universities with a strong tech and creative background. Whilst the the few locals we did find willing wanted Camps to be held in hotels, tickets with a price tag and the general attitude was ‘hotels mean business’ and ‘academia means… you’re not serious’… as a collective the Drupal Jedi council of Pakistan privately reacted with two words to that notion… s*d that!

The premise of our initiative for promoting Drupal and building the local community: spread the knowledge, create jobs, keep the events free to attend; attract students, fresh graduates, people between jobs, prepare Jedis for tomorrow and the years to come, give back, nurture long term prosperity for the community that occupies that part of Middle Earth! peeps are still trying to figure out the catch! keep chasing that tail dawg!

OK, time to roast a few! the allegedly more forward thinking universities in Islamabad and Lahore…  did not get Drupal… Drew…what! and worse still did not get how Camps would lead to  creating jobs! seriously! we heard responses like yes but Drupal is not big here! Php is so has been!…. well you know what nothing other than proprietary cr*p is big there! plus they missed the point that most of the Pakistani tech sector is export focused! and guess what Drupal is huge in other parts of the rock, and there is a skills shortage for good Drupalers the world over! an opportunity missed! and of course Drupal will be huge there too, once the institutions, the government and the big corps pull their heads out…

Other institutions that apparently got it; we got passed around from person to person, department to department…. felt like a Boris bike! The line was ‘what a great idea, I have cc’ed/spoken to my colleague Sum Dood in this email and he shall take it from here…’ well you know what he didn’t take it anywhere! and our phone calls went unanswered or passed on to another leader of men!

By this time we had knocked on so many doors our knuckles were hurting and our name was getting around, as the guys who want to pitch a Camp of some kind… we  do not mind ignorant peeps ridiculing us!our persistence paid of, of the many who thought we were humour in their narrative, actually did us a favour! our name got around and reached those who digressed from the norm and saw the road ahead! For the Islamabad camp that was the IT faculty at Preston University and for the Lahore Camp the IT faculty at the University of Central Punjab.

Having secured the venues getting people through the doors was not a problem, there has been a waiting audience for Camps in both the cities we have encamped in so far, and the enquiries for Drupal Camp Pakistan’s arrival to Karachi is becoming overwhelming! Other than the existing Drupalers there has been  huge demand from the uninitiated and the plain curious…

Then there is the devilish detail that I shall share on my flight back from Drupal Camp Pakistan.

“The winds and waves are always on the side of the ablest navigators.”. Edward Gibbon

#DCPakistan #DCPK #Drupal #Community

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Winning Hearts & Minds From the Belly Up

Winning hearts and minds (WHAM) is an ideal of influence that aspires to be utilised in the stead of military action but in certain instances is employed in conjunction with the use of force. In the ideal, however, one side seeks to prevail not by the use of superior force, but by making emotional or intellectual appeals to sway supporters of an opposing or divergent side.

Winning Hearts and Minds This is not a new concept and has been tried out in the field from the Malayan Emergency (with success) to Afghanistan with mixed results! Ideologies, attitudes, morality and loyalty sit higher in Maslow’s Pyramid of needs than food, shelter and security.  Winning hearts and minds is only possible when approached from the belly up! it is Maslow.. it is simple.

To make it simpler still; no one can win the heart and mind of an individual who is impoverished and struggling to meet the basic needs of food, shelter and security for him/herself and his/her family. Unless and until the basic needs* of the impoverished social class are addressed reaching hearts and minds is going to be a tall order, rendering winning them over near impossible.

It is with this premise that Peace Through Prosperity approaches reaching hearts and minds from the belly up! by empowering the generationally poor, the displaced (those most vulnerable to be recruited by ideology or coercion by extremists) with the ability to build a better future for themselves by their own hands. Peace Through Prosperity provides and promotes an entrepreneurial approach to Winning Hearts & Minds by engaging with the bottom most rung of the enterprise ladder in society.

The underlying premise of our approach is that petty crime, more serious criminal undertakings, and acts of terrorism can be largely addressed if not eradicated by the creation of opportunities, personal security, and wealth in society. We believe in helping those who help themselves with knowledge, skills and resources so that they are empowered to build a better future.

To sway supporters and sympathizers of extremism we need to provide the disenfranchised, displaced communities affected by conflict or in contact with its ideology with alternative safety nets and opportunities to better their lot.

* from Maslow’s order these being: food, shelter, security.

@Bringptp #Entrepreneurship #Founders #PeaceThroughProsperity #ThirdRock #SXSW #Peace #PovertyAlleviation

One more option to look on her packing at it levitra vardenafil it of course to take not so simply because a form another and there is a wish to hold in hand her not so strongly. You can carry by me on a wide field.