Putting It All Together: the “New Lens” of Integrated Improvement

This follows on my appearance last week at FHI 360’s Challenge Development conference. This conference featured Otto Scharmer’s two-hour opening presentation. I was on a panel for a “deep dive” into “polarity and emergence in cooperation and competition” (hint- I said there is NO polarity. These are two aspects of the singular complex experience of living).

My friends at FHI 360 advocate and seek to apply an “integrated strategy” to the exceedingly complex work of global development. 

Here’s my recent comment on Integrated Improvement:

I have been teaching what I call “Integrated Improvement” for years now. I referenced my approach in my remarks at last year’s FHI 360 Advancing the Field Conference, and again last week in my talk at the Challenge Development conference.

The “integration” in approaching the complex challenges of development work begin with applying a new lens to the sense-making and decision-making processes. The New Lens is all about looking at the different types of systems and challenges we face, and understanding that different challenges require different kinds of response. An Appreciative perspective on Asset-Based Community Development help to focus on promising options, without the (false) presumption that solutions to complex challenges are known or knowable. This new lens has powerful implications for sense-making, decision-making, defining metrics, and assessing policy and program results.

We explore possibility without fear of failure. We include everyone in our inquiry. We learn continuously; adapt as needed; keep what works; discard what doesn’t.

And in so doing, we integrate our approaches and actions towards both technical/complicated, and complex/adaptive challenges at the same time. We learn as we probe the multiple dynamics that impact the challenges we want to address. And we adjust strategy and tactics as needed.

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