Building institutional and individual strategic capacity

That’s what David Pelletier (the researcher, not the figure skater) said at an Alive and Thrive meeting some days ago. That’s what needs to happen in developing countries, above and beyond efficient and effective implementation of individual development projects. And I just thought: Wow, some people have such a way with words. That’s exactly what you can do by drawing Net-Maps with people with decision making capacity. You don’t just “extract” their knowledge like a rotten tooth. But you sit down together to increase each others’ network understanding and in the process learn how to deal more strategically with complexity.

Another term that I learned in the meeting was: “Optimal ambiguity”

Perceptual Ambiguity: Old woman or young girl? (by W. E. Hill, 1915)

In planning we always insist that you have to be clear about your goals, but in our discussion we realized that for getting a strong and united advocacy coalition for a cause (or for convincing donors, the general public etc.) it might make sense to keep things optimally ambiguous to invite a broad coalition to join you. The only question is: Once it gets to actually doing it (whatever “it” is), how do you deal with the disappointment of those partners who understood something different, when you defined your blurry cause?

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