Mittwoch, 2. Januar 2013

Why operate agile in sustainable development programmes and projects?

ITIL ®V3 (IT Service Management)
 PRINCE2 ® (Projects in Controlled Environments)
Agile Management Innovations
Business Informatics - Diplom-Ingenieur
Informatikmanagement - Mag. rer. soc. oec
Wirtschaftsinformatik - Bakk.rer. soc. oec
Social Science - DEUG


La «Vérité en deçà des Pyrénées, erreur au delà» Blaise - Pascal. Yes, implementing successfully development programmes or projects in unknown environment is a great challenge. Most development projects fail when they meet  local sociocultural infrastructures, 

(Basic physical and organizational structures needed for the operation of a society or enterprise, or the services and facilities necessary for an economy to function. It can be generally defined as the set of interconnected structural elements that provide framework           supporting an entire structure of development.) 

and because the traditional programme, project management and evaluations methods are not able to cope with constant changes  in the local community practices, and in the communities environment. The traditional, linear planning and evaluation models are not flexible to respond to certain obstacles that handicap sustainable development programs and projects efforts. 

Challenges that make development delivery complex and unconfortable.

Certains donors  decisions could be based on rigid plans and contracts that could not be modified or changed during programmes and projects designing, implementing, delivering and supporting because they do not have a clear picture and they do not  know and underststand what happens deeply on the target site. Furthermore the  lacks of communities to participate and to specify  the adequate requirements before starting the programmes or the projects are great challenges. "Operate agile" can help us to reduce these challenges.

The Collaboration and participation 

Collaboration and  participation for implementing successfully development programmes and projects in unknown environment may  be hard because we need to patiently explain to communities, to others etc. what we do and why, while at the same time, we must remain open to criticism and be willing to change the way we do things. Similarly, we need to take a keen interest in communities, in others (local gouvernments, donnors, privates, Consultants etc.) and how they do and manage their own  sustainable development work, while keeping an eye out for improvement during decisions making,  designing, implementing, delivering and supporting our sustainable  development programmes and projects.

The complexities of the socio cultural communities environment

Socio cultural communities environment  and its socio cultural resources are automatically predisposed to change and, at the same time, to resist new changes.  The fact is that most development programmes or projects fail  because the communities environments and its socio cultural resources are not well known and hence not well-integrated into the evaluation, initiation, designing and implementation processes of sustainable development  programmes or  projects.

One example, community socio cultural environment impact statements presented by scientific evaluating organizations to decide on the adoption of sustainable development programmes or projects  include very precise data. However, the quality and context of the data, such as the margin of error and the range are sometimes omitted. Futhermore the differences in data reporting and evaluation, levels of geography, and data accessibility issues complicate the decisions processes.

Because of interest group, even if the evaluation statement predicts the negation of the mentioned programme or project impacts on the community environment and its socio cultural resources, decision makers could proceed with the programme or project  through political  manoeuvring and interests.

The cultural obstacles

While designing the development programmes or projects, cultural differences are not well integrated and understood. The failure to fully account for cultural differences contributes to the lacks of success of many sustainable development programmes or projects. Traditional beliefs and practices do hinder change and innovation. Cultural obstacles present both great challenges and opportunities because cultures are always what we have to work with.

The dynamism of the society

Social environments are not static. Culture changes, the society changes,  socio cultural resources, infrastructures etc. are changing within a community. People mentalities and beliefs are changing too. Cultural contestation and cultural adaptation will always happen.  Each society has to change over time, in fact no civilization is static.  We have to know the society as well as we possibly can, understand the traditions and the mentalities within the society, which will allow for external sustainable development programmes or projects inputs (development programmes, projects, funds, advices, assistances etc.). This work has to be done before designing and implementing each sustainable development programmes or projects and this  may require great challenges.

Operate agile

Hence there is a need to experiment with agile planning processes in evaluating, designing and implemtimg sustainable development programmes or projects because the traditional, linear planning models are inadequate for building sustainable communities development programmes and projects. They are too linear, slow, inflexible and costly. The iterative and social nature of agile make it an excellent alternative when it comes to decide and to managing development programmes and projects, especially communities development programmes and projects. “Operate agile” is the better way to address, to adapt, to  decide quickly  and to respond favorable  to change in sustainable development environment.

Know well the community socio cultural environment 

«Know well the community socio cultural environment» refers to the process by which development agencies and private companies collaborate with the communities to understand and, inform themselves about the community socio cultural resources, social procedures and its social development capacities  before starting sustainable development programmes or projects with them. This process includes being able to check, among other information, the requirements of the community in sustainable development programmes or projects , the available socio cultural infrastructures, the cultural obstacles of the prospective community by implementing the distinguished programmes or projects, its own sustainable development activities, capacities and resources, and its sustainable development   background and political structures. 

Knowing the communities by being and deciding close to them to assuming we know what the communities need.  Communities like to believe that we care by listening to what they have to say and the basic problems they have.  And if we really listen them they will provide us absolute information to manage successfully our sustainable development programmes or projects. Communities want and  they are praying  always that we succeed  sustainable development  programmes or projects,  so they could have a better life. So, we must make a point of listening and knowing to our target communities while designing and implementing development programmes or projects. The best way to do that is through   collaboration and knowing programme processes. Working with a caring attitude and knowing values. We must collaborate with them by beeing good listeners.  We must offer them  full supports and openly recognize their importance and their efforts to the profitability and success of our sustainable developement programmes and the projects. 

Focus on the community interests

In order to meet the sustainable development programmes, projects, technical assistances requirements and to combine efficiency, effectiveness, and then  integrated control the designing mplementation process should be seamlessly integrated into the target socio cultural infrastructures procedures of the community. The process must be optimized so that transparent relationships and collaborative works with the community can be monitored. The shareable, transferrable and reliable knowledge of the stakeholders can be maintained and must be developed for further sustainable development programmes or projects within the community after the actual programme or project exit.  It should be noted that the public  development agency or the private development agency has the same goals as the community interests.

Maintaining well work transparency and relationship with the community

Once a trust relationship with the community has been created and the sustainable development programme or project needs have been identified,  the further objective of know the community well and focus on the community interest   depend on the lifecycle of the programme or project including the programme or  project decision key points assessment. This means working and checking direct with the community to identify if the expected resulted of the programme or project is accomplishing, as well as to provide quick reactions when changes in the socio cultural infrastructures of the community occur. Doing so is a prerequisite to maintaining a sustainable development environment.

Adapting to the community environment

In order to add sustainable development value to the different development programmes or projects already in place, change management processes should be made to complement them without interfering. This stresses the importance of managing change, interactions and communicating well with all the involved actors, both inside and outside the communities.

To reach these objectives and comply with evolving change management guidelines, the  sustainable development programmes or projects  must  be implemented to interact smoothly and efficiently within the community environment, and to deal with a wide range of flexible socio cultural infrastructures. The stakeholders may vary greatly, in terms of the nature of their business, structure, and location. The sustainable development environment of the community may itself change. A key aspect when operating agile is the ability to adapt and remain flexible vis-á-vis the community interests and its transformations.

Continuous learning and checking

Last but not least, to ensure that there are no redundancies or inconsistencies in the sustainable development programme or project, the programme or project management should include periodical learning and cross-checking to see if the skills and knowledge of the community are up to date with the programme or project progress.

Feedback processes should be joined with dynamic management of the community involvement and proactivity with regards to the capacity building of the community in order to monitor the programme or project quality and make sure the expected results, technologies, knowledge and talents  are still   delivered within the community.

This occurs in comprehensive and continuous training of stakeholders including community so that they understand the impact of the sustainable development programme or project on the community socio cultural infrastructures environment and on the well-being of the community member. Taking into consideration the collaborative and cross-checking priorities within sustainable development programmes or projects will ensure an optimal.



Operate agile triggers the process within understanding, learning, interactions, sharing ideas, finding solutions and developing innovations occur in a specific community,   and helps to convince donors to adopt on flexible plans and flexible alternatives during decisions making to reach more successfully sustainable development programmes and projects. Development agencies, NGOs, privates etc. are operating often in unknown and very complex environment.

During this process donnors,  public and private development agencies, governments, local communities etc share a common concern and common passion for helping the others to get a better life and learn how to manage local development programmes and projects  better as they interact  regularly. Taking decisions and working closely with a wide range of communities to deliver successfully sustainable developments programmes or projects are  core processess of operate agile.  

Author, Amouzou Bedi, sample paper, contact on LinkedIn. I will try to update this paper on a regular basis if  a need arises. Please if you have a suggestion and feedback with regards to this paper, please feel free to contact me.


[AGILE, URL] Agile Manifesto
[Appelo 2011] What Is Agile Management?

Photo- Angoisse:
From Jurgen Appelo, 10. Februar 2011
About being a manager in an Agile organization[
Amouzou Bedi] Knowledge Package for Development
[Amouzou Bedi] Creating decentralized knowledge management and transfer culture for development
[Amouzou Bedi] La coopération agile au développement, book french édition
[Amouzou, Bedi] La vie privée et sociale des plus pauvres: indicatrices pertinentes dans les processus d´évaluation des projets de développement (publication en cours)

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