Development pilot projects begin with high hopes and good intentions.
But too many of them proceed with the mistaken belief that a good idea plus a lot of hope can combine to create lasting, large-scale change, according to Larry Cooley, president and founder of Management Systems International, who has for decades studied the gap between what works at a small scale and what it takes to change a system. In many cases, that gap stems from too much complexity in project design.
“If you really design something as a project, and not as a chance to try and test and explore or stretch system change, then you’re going to overdesign,” Cooley told Devex in an exclusive video interview in our Washington, D.C., studio.
At a time when foreign assistance dollars must be stretched further, and as donors increasingly shift their attention to local systems — and the positive changes development implementers can bring about within those systems — it is more crucial than ever to understand what it takes to think about scale from the very beginning of the project cycle.