what you get here

This is not a blog which expresses instant opinions on current events. It rather uses incidents, books (old and new), links and papers as jumping-off points for some reflections about our social endeavours.
So old posts are as good as new! And lots of useful links!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Pride and humility


The mornings are still surprisingly cold here in Sofia. But, by the time I was ready to go for some of the delicious bread in the Dutch shop, the sun was offering some warmth. The wind, however, was still strong as I took advantage of the cycle path which runs in parallel with the small stream which forms the thread of the city’s inner circle. As I came back, I noticed teenagers bagging the debris around the path and stream. “Is this voluntary or compulsory work” I asked one. “Voluntary” he answered positively. “It’s linked to a media campaign – but we’re doing it here in our local area rather than where the main campaign is focusing its efforts. I go to bed with a better feeling that I’ve done something positive”. I congratulated him. I couldn’t see this happening in Bucharest!

I’ve just uploaded a relatively coherent version of the paper I shall present to the Varna Conferebce in mid-May to my website(updated 28 April). It's now called Flesh and Blood - the EC's Backbone strtagey meets impervious power. (updated on 9 May)
I’m not the only person with these concerns about Technical Assistance. My friend David Coombes also wrote a powerful piece for the 2006 Conference to which I submitted my original critique.
I’ve been wrestling with the conclusion for which I am drawing on the text of a recent blog which suggested that those international consultants in institution-building who have been using British experience might well wish to consider whether in fact the rest of the world has much to gain from its particular version of New Public Management. It’s too much to expect any breast-beating or sackclothes from them - but a bit of humility would be appreciated. I’m now trying to make the link in the conclusion back to the quotation with which I start the paper –
I have long given up on the quest to find the one universal tool kit that will unite us all under a perfect methodology… as they will only ever be as good as the users that rely on them. What is sorely missing in the development machine is a solid grounding in ethics, empathy, integrity and humility
This time last year I was posting some useful stuff about the process of change – this post summarised the key roles which Malcolm Gladwell identified for change in his best-seller - The Tipping Point
The painting is one of a series available on The Guardian website by women artists active during the world wars whose work has been forgotten.

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