Enoughness and Experimentation: Blended Learning Opportunity
Monday, May 11, 2015 at 11:48AM
Nanci Lee

We know that we work in situations of complexity, unpredictability. So why do we keep approaching problems and analysis in the same way?

There is a global movement committed to do things differently. From the collective impact movement in North America  to the “Doing Development Differently” agenda, we’ve learned that we have to operate more like the entrepreneurs we are working to support.

That is, in the words of Beckett:

Fail often, Fail better

The key to systems thinking and practice is quite simple. Dip a toe in, test the water, monitor closely what is happening and then adapt as you go along. It is a wag the tail approach to learning and doing with tighter faster feedback loops. Quite a different way of working than “getting the methodology right,”  “best practices”, “roll outs.”

In our savings group work, we’ve learned lots of interesting things that challenge earlier assumptions. Village-agent formed groups can not only match but can exceed field officer formed groups in financial performance. Independent or graduated groups (Zanzibar and Swaziland) had reduced to no training and also performed well. Mature groups morph and adapt the methodologies in all kinds of interesting ways becoming investment clubs, doing bookkeeping differently, forming larger groups to reach economies of scale and finance shocks.

What can we learn from these examples about “enoughness”? How much is enough training? Enough accompaniment? Under what circumstances can and should the methodology adapt? What’s the right balance between methodological compliance and helping groups make informed choices?

An upcoming blended (distance learning and face to face) course we are offering through SMDP, Carsey School of Public Policy aims to help SG practitioners ask some of these questions. 

The course uses a systems approach to scale and impact reviewing current SG concepts, innovations and case-studies over 4.5 months. During this time, learners will be conducting an action research assignment while in the field. This allows them to question experiment and adapt all while getting support from faclitators and peers. 

We can talk about adaptation and experimentation but most workshops have a time lag between learning and application. The difficult part is trying to implement real time with real messy problems. With distance learning it all happens simultaneously so the re-working of questions and methods happens with support.

And if you’re worried that you wouldn’t have a chance to meet your peers, the course ends with a week long Advanced Practitioner Intensive in Zambia prior to the SG conference with blended course facilitator Nanci Lee and Savings Revolution’s Paul Rippey. Join us for the adventure!

Article originally appeared on Savings Revolution (http://savings-revolution.com/).
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