Pause, reflect – lets celebrate journey of a team #SocialTransformation #Heroes

Team

What better way to spend a Sunday in Karachi than reminiscing and sharing Peace Through Prosperity (BringPTP)’s success with y’all.

Let me set the scene real quick!

2014

  • Peace Through Prosperity (BringPTP) brings its social transformation programs to Karachi. See this if you’re not familiar with BringPTP’s work.
  • BringPTP set’s about building the delivery team for what is to be the largest engagement in what is and remains a very challenging engagement.
  • Attempt 1 fails fast, and the delivery team is down to three! that reflection is for another post but it’s worth stating; for this program BringPTP hired MBAs, Tech and Social sciences graduates, of the seven hires all but one made the cut in the field, it was a brutal sprint and bloody retrospective!… and yes there was a lot of drama!
  • Attempt 2 yields a team of 9 all potential (very rough) gems, all hired from within marginalized communities they are soon to engage. There are two team members  with Higher Education qualifications, some have secondary schooling but others are only literate. None have ever been through any formal professional training of any sort or undertaken anything like this. Overall the team is hired on their street smarts, courage and a hunger for socio-economic transformation in their communities.
  • The newly formed team’s training and coaching lasts for two weeks with key areas of focus being; BringPTP’s programs and Agility (Scrum), Majority of the training and coaching delivered was in the field itself.
  • The team takes a cautious start to the project. There are many failures along the way, the team inspects, learns, adapts and keeps moving forward whilst delivering phenomenal, phenomenal results!
  • The team isn’t quite self organizing yet, but they are well on their way!

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Agile for Peace – Scrum Alliance Regional Gathering South Asia

South_east_asia It is a privilege to be provided with an opportunity to share with the Agile Scrum community what has been an experimental journey for the past 4 odd years applying Agile methodologies to social transformation projects in hard and occasionally hostile environments.

What started off as a micro-fail experiment by Peace Through Prosperity to ‘see if it works’ has in true Agile fashion evolved into a successful program of socioeconomic transformation with a strong emphasis on preventing radicalisation or the slide to the far right. From the get go the ambition has been to open source it and engage individual communities across the third rock to embrace the program, modify it for the nuances of their community and environment so that we can as a large collective lift many if not all of the 99% out of poverty and out of harms way (for us harm is the mass non-violent radicalisation of the populous by any far right movement religious, political or otherwise).

However Open sourcing it hasn’t been all that easy! its wasn’t the program, the methodology or the underlying ethos of Peace Through Prosperity’s work, rather the challenge has been finding willing individuals as partners to approach, embrace and take the program to their own communities. 

Agile for peace Scrum Alliance Meet up Back in January 2015 we had that breakthrough, when Raju from Chennai contacted me enquiring about how Peace Through Prosperity’s been using Agile in non-tech projects and whats the secret sauce for Boundaryless Agile – the conversation lead to exploring taking the Peace Through Prosperity model from Karachi, Pakistan to Triupati, Andra Pradesh in India. As a starter for ten Raju kindly invited me to speak at the Chennai Scrum Meetup which of course coincided with the ICC World Cup match between India and Pakistan; we dubbed it ‘Agile for Peace’ and you can watch the talk here 

The next natural step was introducing the program and approach to local Agile practitioners and aficionados and start exploring the migration process for exporting the Peace Through Prosperity program across the border. The Scrum Alliance Regional Gathering in India seemed like the most apt place to reach out to local and regional practitioners, particularly given the theme for the year ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ which I am told stands for ’The World as one Family’, something that resonates very strongly with Peace Through Prosperity’s community ethos ‘for the 99% by the 99%’, and so it was decided, Raju and me submitted a session for the Scrum Alliance Regional Gathering; ‘Transforming Lives Using Agile & Scrum’ and here we are!  

The only down-er has been my inability to secure a visa to India in time to be presenting in person, I have been informed I travel a lot to countries of ‘interest’ and therefore processing a visa for me takes longer than usual! Though the lack of a visa won’t be keeping me from co-presenting (Goto Meeting Zindabad!) it will be keeping me from meeting some awesome folks from the Agile community in India that I have been in touch with over the past 3-4 months! but friends we shall right that wrong soon!

Raju and my joint presentation can be viewed below, a complete guide to tailoring and migrating the Peace Through Prosperity program will be posted up on my blog soon too and do keep pulse on how the Peace Through Prosperity program fares in Triupati, and lastly thank you to Scrum Alliance User Group in India for the opportunity to share this with the Agile Community. Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam!

 

Transforming lives using agile – Scrum Alliance Regional Gathering South Asia 2015 from Kubair Shirazee

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Security of our homeland begins abroad

Across every forum I have had the opportunity to speak on this subject, be it the Agile Business Conference in London, Digibury in Cantebury, Palace of Westminster, numerous technology camps across Eurasia or Starbucks (the usual rendezvous for the curious) the message has always been …security of our homeland begins abroad. It was hence reassuring to hear our Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Mr Philip Hammond utter those exact words this week during the 10th Manama Dialogue Regional Security Summit organised by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) in the Bahraini capital Manama.

However Mr Hammond’s vision for its implementation is a Universe apart from our own, though Mr Hammond has got it right that the security of the “homeland” began abroad his means to achieve it as history has repeatedly proven are going to be ineffective. To protect Britain and British interests our foreign policy needs to pivot away from building military bases and putting our troops on the ground to prop up unpopular regimes.

Transformation will happen Mr Hammond, choose wisely as to how you invest our taxes abroad. Be it the Middle East, North Africa, Sahel,  Afghanistan, Central or South Asia; every society is transforming from the bottom up and from the top down. The populous is seeking progressive change whilst the top is seeking ways to maintain the status quo, our foreign policy must embrace the transformation being driven from the bottom up for that is where the war for hearts and minds will be won or lost, that is where the 99% will see us as their friends or as the enemy that worked with their corrupt and oppressive regimes; prolonging the inevitable.

Middle Britain needs to think hard but not for too long. Do we want our taxes spent on the protection and preservation of unpopular regimes or do we want to contribute towards a future state where Britain is part of the solution and not the problem.

Security of the homeland will not come from the expansion of our military complex in distant lands, it will come from prosperity of the masses of those distant lands who remain disenfranchised.


What a difference Digitally Lead, Agile Designed, Open Sourced Social Transformation Makes from Peace Through Prosperity on Vimeo

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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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Towards a better future state – improving the socioeconomic landscape through data informed transformation – part 3

Delivering Agile Peace Building and Transformation Projects Over the last 2 posts I put forward the case for a data informed transformation strategy and then went on to outline tools and techniques used to understand the problem space, stakeholders involved, desirable outcomes, acceptable options, solutionising them, metrics to measure and means of measuring them.

From hereon I will keep my posts short, to detail specific tools and techniques used to enable the Peace Through Prosperity team to frame the ecosystem and solution options using reference frames used in defining, designing and delivering large scale digital transformation programmes.  This approach has allowed the team to design micro-fail experiments, to alter them using real time data edging closer to delivering the desired outcomes. Studying previous analogs and antilogs has ensured we do not waste any resources in replicating or attempting to improve previous programmes that though well meaning have had little to no impact on the ground. The micro-fail experimentation approach has allowed Peace Through Prosperity the luxury of trying out truly innovative approaches.

Diving into in the details, before there could be any thought given to the how to transform the ‘as is’ state was the need to understand the ‘as is’ state better than the incumbents with the same noble aims as Peace Through Prosperity. We started off from a position of strength as a number of us had been individually researching the rise of the political right and extremism since 2005 onwards and between the founding team and our body of advisors there exists a vast body of knowledge collected through extensive personal  field research as well as secondary research available to us. Allowing us to create a map of our problem/operating space.

The consensus was to work from the ground up, understand the triggers and drivers that create the perfect environment for a populous to be radicalised in mass. To gain an insight into the beneficiary’s behaviour an Empathy Map seemed like the perfect tool to deploy, and go beyond to better understand all the drivers and actions across all stakeholders in the eco-system.

For the uninitiated in the use of Empathy maps; in the digital realm I kick off almost every project by interviewing, observing and analysing all the stakeholders involved; from the sponsors to the end users, to better understand their current pain points, desired outcomes, boundaries, motivations and behaviour. Then, as me and my teams work towards our objectives, be it to deliver a transformation strategy, a programme plan or a digital solution we use the Empathy Maps to help drive the user persona, the user experience and the brief to deliver a scalable, fit for purpose deliverable that goes beyond the client expectations in its ability to assist them in achieving their desired outcomes.

Almost 2 years into the journey that is Peace Through Prosperity Empathy Maps have proven to be an invaluable tool in aligning the overall design of the programme with its intended beneficiaries, in our own understanding and development of narratives needed to bridge the differing world views and find common ground to work from.

Empathy Map to understand triggers, motivations, behaviour of marginalised masses vulnerable to non-violent mass radicalisation In this post I am sharing the Empathy map developed for the working poor; the direct beneficiaries we are engaged with, to assist and facilitate them in building a better future state for themselves by themselves via Peace Through Prosperity’s Mini-MBA Programme.

The Empathy Map is based on first hand interviews with over 50+ individuals over a period of 3 months from numerous different conflict affected regions within Pakistan as well as survey data of over 500 individuals, video interviews and facilitated workshops held in Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Peshawar, Dera Adam Khel, Haripur, Karachi, Bhit Shah and Hala. Though I shall be sharing Empathy Maps for most of the stakeholders in the ecosystem there will be some I will not be making public any time soon and no doubt you can appreciate why.

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