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Navigating adaptive approaches for development programmes: a guide for the uncertain

Working paper

Hero image description: Notes Image credit:Hernán Piñera Image license:CC BY-SA 2.0

This working paper compares six of the most prominent adaptive approaches to emerge over the past two decades. Three come from the world of innovation, largely in the private sector (agile, lean startup and human-centred design), and three from the global development sector (thinking and working politically, forms of adaptive management and problem-driven iterative adaptation).

While all of these approaches are valuable when used in the right context, practitioners may be perplexed by the multiplicity of methods and jargon. This paper aims to address some of this confusion by mapping where these approaches have come from and showing how they can be applied across the adaptive programme cycle. Armed with this knowledge, practitioners might experiment with different combinations and sequences of adaptive approaches according to the kind of problem and context faced. In turn, this may help us move beyond a siloed view of approaches linked to innovation, adaptive management or more politically smart ways of working.

For feedback or questions about this briefing note please contact Alina Rocha Menocal ([email protected]). 

Jamie Pett