How Change Happens in a post-data world

Topics Evidence-based practice | Evidence-based policy
(L-R) Nkosana Mafico, Kylie Fisk, Duncan Green, Rebecca Wilson, Judith Grayley MP and Chris Roche at Deakin Edge, Melbourne

Not many of us have the luxury of time to reflect deeply on the processes, environments and pre-conditions which effect positive change. However, Duncan Green, Strategic Advisor and blogger for Oxfam UK, was commissioned to do just that as he researched the topic of his new book, How Change Happens.

In the book, Duncan argues that our activism for social and political change must be informed by a comprehensive understanding of the systems and institutions within which change happens. He calls for development actors to adopt adaptive processes and iterative learning, based upon strong evidence that complex change is almost never a linear process.

Thushara Dibley, deputy Director of the Sydney Southeast Asia Centre at the University of Sydney, has written a review of How Change Happens on the DevPolicy blog.

The RDI Network was pleased to co-host Duncan at a series of public forums in Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne earlier this month. With over 400 participants in attendance, we were encouraged by the acknowledgment that business as usual is not working when it comes to tackling some of the world’s greatest challenges. Interactive panel and Q&A discussion brought out the relevance of Duncan’s ideas beyond the aid & development sector, and reinforced the call for activists to step out of their silos and learn across sectors.

Duncan adapted the idea of the ‘post-truth’ era by contending that in reality, we are entering a post-data’ world, where evidence and research are cherry picked and interpreted for convenience, or otherwise left at the door of policy and practice decisions. For the RDI Network, this strengthens our resolve to advance the position of research in policy making decisions, and demonstrate the value of evidencing programs which effect transformational change.

To read more about Duncan’s ideas and his time in Australia, check out these posts by Devex, Pro Bono Australia, ACFID and AVI.

Thanks to the Developmental Leadership Program, Oxfam Australia, International Women’s Development Agency, the Development Policy Centre, the State, Society & Governance in Melanesia Program, and Sydney Ideas for collaborating with us to make these events possible.