Essays & events 2018-02-16T12:41:31+00:00


In-depth thinking on serious crises, and what can really be done about them

Round table: “Screw-up night”

No-one has a 100% success rate working in fragile states. In fact quite the opposite — it’s an all-too-familiar feeling when our best efforts get over-taken by events on the ground. The grass gets crushed when the elephants fight, as the old saying has it.

How to get decisions on the tough questions, more often

Oftentimes, it feels like political principals are actively resisting making a decision. Delays fritter away precious opportunities, while compromises lead to strategic plans a mile wide and an inch deep. Meanwhile critical weaknesses go unremedied until it’s too late, because no-one wants to face up to

Round table: “Learning from experiments”

July’s round table for the London Conflict / Fragility group focused on a question that has come up again and again in previous sessions. If we’re really committed to “demand-driven” approaches, then we’ve got to be committed to empirical investigation of what works.

A buyer’s guide to learning-focused evaluation

Evaluation is much too focused on impact, and not enough on process. This is counter-intuitive, and yet is true.

Imagine if Apple’s designers collected usability feedback on iPhones – their ease of use, durability, merits over other products. Then they took the forms and handed them out

How stabilisation failed in the Congo, in six short videos

Georges Clemenceau once quipped that war is too important a subject to be left to the generals. The same is true for efforts to reshape and stabilise countries in crisis.

The stakes are very high and our choices about how to engage are not esoteric, nor hugely