Towards a better future state – improving the socioeconomic landscape through data informed transformation – part 2

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Though there have been several posts by myself and on Peace Through Prosperity’s dedicated blog on the results from the ground there has been little documented by us on how we got to where we are in delivering our transformational Mini-MBA programme for micro-entrepreneurs/entrepreneurs of circumstances.

These posts focus on the process behind the system deployed; its design and implementation strategy. Our research, the  process of developing the tools, methodology and techniques all with the view that such transparency will lend itself well to making the system open source and encourage others to adopted it as well as help us improve it.

In the last post I put forward the case for a ‘data informed strategy’ to influence and gently nudge the societal transformation already in process in the right direction. Hereon I shall detail how the team from Peace Through Prosperity (PTP) reached that conclusion, designed a programme to experiment with data informed consulting for micro-entrepreneurs in conflict affected regions to assist them in rebuilding their community, society starting from taking charge of their own socioeconomic circumstances.

Our journey started with a couple of simple questions; ‘…what could we do to change the current state and trajectory of affairs? …what could we do to address the growth of radicalisation in all its forms?’ that lead to ‘where and what is the silver bullet we are in search of? How would we know we have found it? How would we deliver it? What mechanisms would we need to deliver it? How do we measure its success or failure?’

Our Rationale

Our Rationale

Though we did not have any answers as system scientists we did have the tools and know how to discover the likely options, and we started from what we know. We applied a number of tools and methods at our disposal from Rich pictures from Soft Systems, Scenario Planning, Story Maps, Outcomes-Based policy planning models, Persona models, Empathy maps and good old common sense; for quite some time we reviewed our models, refined, evolved, rinsed and repeated with several trips back to the field to dig deeper and validate our evolving understanding and options for solutions.

Direct, primary research in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, South Punjab, Karachi, Morocco and London had a common thread it was elusive but we had it modelled via our tools, secondary research was affirmation of our trajectory and the conclusions we were arriving at. From the stratosphere it was empathy; one of the key drivers, the commodity used and abused, whose dark narrative was easier to sell and even easier to conjure up. Down on the ground the pull factors giving rise to empathy were darker, murkier and firmly rooted in socioeconomic issues faced by the many in all environments from the developing to the developed. What drives the angry young men in London’s inner estates, Karachi’s Universities and FATA’s towns and villages has a common thread that leads to displaced anger which in turn makes little work for those who pull them towards radicalisation and then on to extremism.

Our focus was on outcomes; the desired state, the detail was in harnessing empathy with a positive narrative, the secret sauce is partly in our metrics, our data informed approach and utilising results to influence behaviour, evolving and strengthening the already abundant resilience, the innovation in creating an alternative indigenous narrative for positive change. If we could not find the Phoenix to tell its tale we had to create several to spread an alternative narrative to bring about positive change, to address and overcome the socioeconomic challenges that have starved many amongst the 99% of hope.

The means to achieving all of that and then some is the growth programme we designed, a product for positive change, we call it the ‘mini-MBA’. A data-informed practical course delivered to marginalised and vulnerable micro-entrepreneurs over 5 days, packed with practical tools and techniques designed to deliver immediate impact, backed up by data informed onsite consulting and coaching for a period of 12 weeks post class room based training, supported by influencing the environment that the micro-entrepreneurs operate in through lobbying. Convincing the grassroots of a better way towards a brighter future and the powers that be of providing an environment that makes it possible and sustainable.

Our projects are geared towards increasing revenues, profit margins, creating financial independence, creating social cohesion, alternative power structures around trade associations, bringing dignity of labour to the down trodden, lobbying for legislations to protect the unregulated, unrecognised and untapped tax base, creating positive narratives and examples from within their communities to inspire others to see hope where they are starved of it. Creating indigenous contextual case studies of successes based on non-material support and guidance, proving that with a bit of assistance the vulnerable and marginalised can take charge of their lives, their environment and head towards greener pastures.

The desired outcome being an environment that is conducive for individual and collective socioeconomic growth, which in turn would test our hypothesis of prosperity leading to peace. It is all easier said than done, however we are miles into this journey, team PTP designed the product, took it to market, evolves it on a continual basis and the results over the last 18 odd months have been very encouraging for us and more so for the audience we are engaged with.

In the next post I shall share details of how we applied DSDM Atern to design the Mini-MBA program and how we are applying SCRUM and Kanban boards to deliver the program in an Agile and evolutionary manner.

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Towards a better future state – improving the socioeconomic landscape through data informed transformation – part 1

Road-Ahead If we want to find a better future state we have start by analysing the current state, its strengths, short comings, their impact on all aspects, all classes within society and so on, only then can we design a transition plan to bridge the gaps, plug the holes, build on the achievements and move towards a better/improved future state.

We are all familiar with the current state, so I will not dwell on it for long; There is exploitation, exclusion, racism, sectarianism, victimisation at the hands of state, civil society and privileged classes. Communities are suffering from direct & indirect humiliation, dignity of labour does not exist; from the street cobbler to the doctor, janitor to the VP putting up with it well aware of the fact it is wrong and unacceptable. Similarly there is a lack of justice and/or access to justice through judicial means once again across the board; from street cobblers to foreign investors alike. The environment is unstable for investment and desperate for it at the same time. Needless to say in this environment opportunities for socio-economic mobility are rare.

The black economy is thriving (Occupy would argue its gone mainstream!) as is violent crime. In Mexico City extremists are seeing it as the rise of Satan, in Syria and Waziristan extremists are fighting Satan! both reactions towards lack of perceived options for changing their societies, communities and lives for the better.

Closer to home we are all partaking in our own transformation; UKIP! the Greens in Parliament, a Con-Lib coalition (a Green parliament!) are our own experiments with a new mix of dominant doctrines and tools for transformation.  We have options as well as the knowledge, skills, behaviour and determination to exercise them, in most parts of the world such luxury does not exist.

Things will transform. Closer to home we can predict it to some extent, further afield what that transformation will look like is anybody’s guess. The responsible thing to do is to influence and guide it in the right direction as best we can.

Those who hold religion as a facilitator for radiclaisation and extremism in society are either misguided or driven to misguide the masses for their own gain (lets face it… it is topical!). Should common sense prevail the consensus would be religions do not create radicals, society does. More precisely socioeconomic conditions and the lack of positive change on the horizon does.

Leaving many with a lack of perceived options for wider change in society will create agents of transformation. Nationalists, democrats, conservatives, martial, fascist, liberals, greens, radicals and the long tail; all exist but only a few dominate general consensus.

Reactionary societal transformations can be facilitated towards positive socio-economic growth to create an environment conducive to peace and prosperity, not egality but a state better than where the global community, the 99% are now. But this is nothing new its not an epiphany its common sense and one that is at the heart of all domestic and international development programs. However what is amiss is  lasting impact that should have been delivered decades ago on the trillions spent in the sector by state lead donor agencies, the UN, World Bank and multitudes of NGOs working on poverty alleviation, human rights, labour rights, education and general betterment of communities, societies and economies across the globe.

It is too late to curtail reactionary societal transformations facilitated by decades of negligence, corruption, exploitation and all such ilk, what is possible however is to influence and guide the transformation to ensure it finds a positive route towards a better state.

The key is a ‘data informed strategy’ to influence and gently nudge the transformation already in process in the right direction. In part 2 I shall pick up on this and expand on how a data informed development program for entrepreneurs of circumstance in conflict affected regions is yielding incredible results from urban to semi urban environments. From the get go Peace Through Prosperity has been a brainchild of digitally led transformative experiences.

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Digitally lead Social transformation

convergance_KAS The collective consciousness of society has changed; locally, nationally and globally, it is disconnected yet converging, running in parallel and seizing every opportunity to merge. Just as digital mediums and their ubiquity is evolving so is its use for social transformation across the rock. It is random, experimental and prescribed, depending on which part of the third rock you are at and what transformation holds for the wider audience.

There are institutional forces that are proponents of it, driving it and there are institutional forces struggling with the change and impeding and challenging it at times violently.

Progressive states are embracing the change and empowering their citizens via multiple channels – in Britain an example of digital empowerment and engagement of the masses in the provision of services is the Government’s Digital Strategy, its a huge step in the right direction. The collective aspect of it is Code for Europe, Code for America and beyond one day fingers crossed.

Leading the expedition in the opposite direction are China, Saudi, Iran, Cuba, Burma, Bahrain, North Korea to name a few  states hard at work, censoring content and access to digital tools to limit access to information, knowledge and tools for connectedness for their populations. Developed states too are guilty of this ugly act, our media’s coverage of Bahrain’s 99% and Rohingyas in Burma, our own incessant surveillance being some examples that come to mind.

However the Social Transformation train has left the station, those opposing it can only slow it down and struggle to change its course, the situation in Bahrain is a great example of this, the collective consciousness for a better world for themselves and their offspring is refusing to let up despite the violent clamp down. Despite the global media ignoring events there the collective consciousness of global society is not and that in itself is a game changer for the revolutionaries in Bahrain!

collective-creativity-2501 The Occupy movement is another home grown example where a single protest in New York City’s Zuccotti Park against social and economic inequality, on 17 September 2011 lead to protests in 95 cities across 82 countries by 9th October! to date every continent has seen Occupy protests except Antarctica! It is a result of the collective consciousness of global society, the 99% given the tools to organise and coordinate themselves.

The Arab spring, the turkish spring, naya Pakistan, London riots all have digital enablement cutting right across! Collective grievances are evolving into collective solutions, the growth of social enterprises,  celebration of  social entrepreneurs is exactly that, it is here today and will only grow with digitally enabled connectedness. The collective consciousness is converging and the digitally empowered  99% are transforming society; the 1% can either harness the momentum, repent and help lead it, facilitate collective consensus or let it fumble along to their peril.

Times have changed, welcome to the new age of digitally empowered social transformation.

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