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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Welcome to the resistance

I follow a few Jedi Masters on the Ether… in the case of one of them… tweets would often lead me to some pretty incredible tales of poverty alleviation and social development in the rock’s third most populous city… Karachi, a haven, a land of opportunity, the city of lights in Middle Earth, invaded by monsters… a slide that has been happening long before my time on the rock or as a transient resident in Karachi.

Poverty Alleviation It is the unassuming stature of a Jedi that makes him/her at one with the force! it is rare but not uncommon to find development leaders dedicate their entire careers and life to a single project, for Parween Rehman that was the Orangi Town Ship project… bringing hope to Asia’s largest slum and the millions of its underprivileged and destitute inhabitants.

Parween Rehman and her team must have been making a difference and nearing a break through for her life was brought to an unnatural and cruel end on Wednesday 13th March 2013 by extremists in Karachi not far from the Orangi township itself.

Whilst it is a great set-back for the poor of Orangi, Karachi, Pakistan and the rock; for many have and continue to learn a great deal from the Orangi Pilot Project, led by Parween Rehman and her team for over two decades.

But…it is not defeat, it is a tragic loss, a significant set back… For there are other Jedis waiting in the ranks, and many new ones are born every time the dark side takes one out.

I sense a dear dear friend affected and giving the sabre a long hard stare. Welcome to the resistance my friend, the force is strong with you.

#Karachi, #PovertyAlleviation, #Poverty, Orangi Town Pilot Project , #humanity, human rights, Winning Hearts and Minds, @BringPTP, #PeaceBuilding, #ParveenRehman, Peace Through Prosperity

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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

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