Rigour can be reductionist or inclusive. To learn about and understand conditions of complexity, emergence, nonlinearity and unpredictability, the inclusive rigour of mixed methods has been a step in the right direction. From analysis of mixed methods and participatory approaches and methods, this article postulates canons for inclusive rigour for research and evaluation for complexity: eclectic methodological pluralism; improvisation and innovation; adaptive iteration; triangulation; plural perspectives; optimal ignorance and appropriate imprecision; and being open, alert and inquisitive. Inclusive rigour is inherent in participatory methods and approaches, visualisations, group-visual synergy, the democracy of the ground and participatory statistics. Transparent reflexivity, personal behaviour and attitudes, and good facilitation are fundamental. Fully inclusive rigour for complexity demands many personal, institutional and professional revolutions.
This book is intended for all who are committed to human wellbeing and who want to make our world fairer, safer and more fulfilling for everyone, especially those who are ‘last’. It argues that to do better, we need to know better.
It provides evidence that what we believe we know in international development is often distorted or unbalanced by errors, myths, biases and blind spots. Undue weight has been attached to standardised methodologies such as randomised control trials, systematic reviews, and competitive bidding; these are shown to have huge transaction costs, which are rarely if ever recognised in their enormity.
Robert Chambers contrasts a Newtonian paradigm in which the world is seen and understood as controllable with a paradigm of complexity, which recognises that the real world of social processes and power relations is messy and unpredictable. To confront the challenges of complex and emergent realities requires a revolutionary new professionalism.
This is underpinned by a new combination of canons of rigour expressed through eclectic methodological pluralism and participatory approaches that reverse and transform power relations. Promising developments include rapid innovations in participatory information and communication technnologies (ICTs), participatory statistics, and the Reality Check Approach, with its up-to-date and rigorously grounded insights. Fundamental to the new professionalism, in every country and context, are reflexivity, facilitation, groundtruthing, personal mindsets, behaviour, attitudes, empathy and love.
In this WASH Talks video, Robert Chambers talks about the use of Rapid Action Learning (RAL) workshops, immersive research and participatory mapping methodologies in India with the purpose of checking what is actually happening on the ground, and learning from this, in relation to the national Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin) (SBM-G) (clean India mission).
These methodologies have been developed and implemented with the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC), WaterAid, Delhi University and the Indian government.
Failure happens. This is a community and a resource to encourage new levels of transparency, collaboration and innovation across the for-purpose sector.
It is painful for civil society organisations to acknowledge when we don’t meet our goals and objectives; it is just as painful to worry about how funders will react to such failure. The paradox is that we do everything we can to avoid these pains even though we all know failure is the best teacher and we have to be open and talk about our failures in order to learn. More than that, openly acknowledging failure is often a catalyst for innovation that takes our work from good to great.
To address this conundrum we need a paradigm shift in how civil society views failure. We think this starts with open and honest dialogue about what is working and what isn’t, so Admitting Failure exists to support and encourage organisations to (not surprisingly) admit failure.
1. To concede as true or valid <admit responsibility for a failure>
2. To allow entry <admit failure into the organization, allowing a safe space for dialogue>
Fear, embarrassment, and intolerance of failure drives our learning underground and hinders innovation.
No more. Failure is strength. The most effective and innovative organisations are those that are willing to speak openly about their failures because the only truly ‘bad’ failure is one that’s repeated.
The Outcome Mapping manual was published in 2001. While still the go-to document for the basics on Outcome Mapping, the implementation and adaptations that individuals and groups have made with Outcome Mapping around the world on a gamut of different initiatives and programming provides a wealth of useful information for practitioners.
The OM Practitioner Guide aims to bring together all of these tips, tricks and nuggets in applying OM that have occurred since the manual was published.
The key audience for the OM Practitioner Guide is OM practitioners and facilitators that ideally have already read the manual and / or attended a training; they have already decided that OM is right for them and they want to use it, or already have begun to use it and would like guidance and ideas on activities, formats, specific tools or other adaptations of the methodology. The OM Practitioner Guide will build on the original manual to provide concrete examples of complexity-oriented planning, defining and monitoring results, and planning evaluations.
The OM Practitioner Guide will:
- Encourage the use and adaptation of OM by drawing on the experience of the broader OM community to showcase real-life examples that demonstrate non-linear use of OM stages and steps
- Be a reference guide that builds off existing resources and experiences in order to bring to the community practical examples and theoretical summaries that come from those examples
- Contextualize OM through nuggets / examples of use, remembering that OM is very amenable to contextualization and shaping itself into ways that are appropriate for different needs and contexts
- Build up the experience of using OM for monitoring and for evaluation (specific tools and formats, processes, challenges, tips for data collection, data analysis and sense-making, storage and organization), especially combined with other frameworks and tools
The OM Practitioner Guide is an ongoing collaboration amongst all OM Practitioners. The majority of content (nuggets) of the OM Practitioner Guide is in English; we encourage practitioners to contribute in other languages.