The power of local solutions
Local solutions are unrecognised
Although researchers, innovators, and entrepreneurs in lower-income countries present amazing ideas, their solutions are often unrecognised and unsupported. Consequently, locally developed and locally adapted solutions are not implemented and local enterprises, that would address the needs of the local people, are not started.
As a consequence, these societies lack access to locally relevant scientific findings and innovations, products, services, and employment opportunities that would otherwise have improved people’s lives. This also limits the tax income to the government, why these countries tend to lack advanced education structures, social security systems, and resourceful institutions.
Moreover, international negotiations and international trade become unbalanced and lower-income countries remain behind in the international competitive arena. Consequently, these countries tend to suffer from poverty, causing corruption, crime, and forced migration.
The potential of social enterprising in Sub-Sahara African countries
Traditional actors have not been able to close the delivery gap to the poor (Navarette Moreno and Agapitova, 2017). Public and non-public providers face large challenges in improving service levels and uptake. As a result, the public sector struggles to meet service demand in low-income communities in terms of delivery and quality. Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) try to fill these gaps, but can only reach as far as grant funding and sponsorships allow, which limits scale of services. The formal business sector provides many services, but often prioritizes delivery to high-and middle-income populations (Navarette Moreno and Agapitova, 2017). Reaching low-income populations is difficult and often unattractive, given difficult-to-access markets, lack of existing infrastructures, high risks, and low profit margins. As a result, low-income populations often rely on informal providers or simply lack service options.
Social Enterprises (SEs) in Africa obviously already address service delivery gaps for the poor. (Navarette Moreno and Agapitova, 2017). Although positive examples abound, SEs have not yet fully realized their potential in Sub-Saharan Africa (Navarette Moreno and Agapitova, 2017). Indeed, Africa is one of the most vibrant and dynamic regional markets for social enterprises.
While effective in reaching the poor, SEs face significant obstacles in growing their activities to a scale where they can substantially contribute to the achievement of development impact. Many SEs struggle to scale-up and develop sustainable business models. SEs face high barriers that are often aggravated by the difficult markets they serve. Common challenges include i) unconducive regulation and policy, ii) lack of financing solutions, iii) weak infrastructure and human capital, and iv) lack of information and networks (Navarette Moreno and Agapitova, 2017).
Therefore, a key question of development programmes, research and policy is how best to identify and remove these obstacles. SEs often fall between traditionally recognised public and private organisations and the public sector often does not play a catalytic role, in terms of taking steps to help develop or partner with the SE sector (Navarette Moreno and Agapitova, 2017). Looking toward 2030, achieving the SDGs for the poorest populations will be costly and cannot be done solely by the public sector—SEs can be a partner in achieving the SDGs. Development practitioners will need innovative solutions and supportive environments that will allow these SE innovations to scale and accelerate results.
Accountability must be built
Mungiu-Pippidi (2017a) claims that corruption is a default governance order, as people tend to favour their own, be it family, clan, race or ethnic group, and that treating the rest of the world fairly, seems to be a matter of extensive social evolution and sufficient resources. Mungiu-Pippidi (2017 b) argues further that most countries today are corrupt rather than non-corrupt and that we should understand corruption as a social practice or institution, not just as a sum of individual corrupt acts. The author continues that in a development perspective, countries whose governance is presently based on norms like ethical universalism (public goods distributed fairly and equitably) have a past with other norms and that the history of clean countries shows that good governance is the product of evolution. Modernity is a long and frequently incomplete endeavour to build private separation and a state that is autonomous towards private groups.
Mungiu-Pippidi (2017b) claims further that treating corruption as a deviation is problematic in lower-income countries, and points out that most anti-corruption approaches are built on the concept that public integrity and ethical universalism are the default governance norms. The author claims that this approach leads to policy failure, as norm building and norm enforcement require two different approaches. The approach of treating corruption as a deviation leads to investing in norm-enforcing instruments in cases where instead norm-building instruments are required. The Mungiu-Pippidi recommends to rather draw and support national long-term strategies aimed at building public integrity and ethical universalism, as well as to reduce opportunities and increase constraints for corruption.
An individual is corrupt when engaging in corrupt acts, regardless of whether the person is on the public or private side (Mungiu-Pippidi, 2017b). In one context, the corrupt agent is just a deviant and can be sanctioned by the principal if disclosed. In another case, the principal colludes with the agent, and corruption is exercised throughout a pyramidal organization that extracts resources disproportionately in favour of the most powerful group. So, anti-corruption means solving problems of power discretion and collective action.
Strategy for change
If we target change, then Mungiu-Pippidi (2017b) argues that we need a “Theory of change” addressing why the status quo would change and who would bring the desired evolution. (HR&S is using the terminology “Strategy for change” instead of the commonly use “Theory of change”, to avoid confusion with the terminology “Scientific theory”.) Mungiu-Pippidi (2017b) also claims that the main theories of change presently informing intervention are too general: modernization theory (although education and economic development have increased over the past twenty years without bringing better governance), and state modernization (the belief that by building state capacity, the integrity problems will be resolved).
Identify agency for corruption control
Countries can achieve control of corruption in two ways (Mungiu-Pippidi, 2017b). One is the surreptitious way, where open access, free competition and meritocracy (government or the holding of power by people selected according to merit) are achieved as a side effect through incremental changes of institutions, without being a main collective goal. This worked in the past for many of today’s higher-income countries. The second way is when rule of law and control of corruption are delivered as collective goods after collective agency and investment, for instance after sustained anti-corruption campaigns. Both paths need human agency. In the former, the role of the agency is small. It is presumed that nobody will oppose reforms that are not perceived to be posing a threat to anybody. Those reforms are just common sense, professionalism, and public demand for government performance. In the latter case, considerable efforts and alignment of both the interests favouring change and ideology of ethical universalism are needed. Identifying the human agency capable of delivering change becomes essential.
Demand for good governance is increasing all over the world (Mungiu-Pippidi, 2017b). Changing governance across borders is a difficult task, but international partners may want to try to socialize with enlightened elites, and there are certainly opportunities to help civil society and a developing enlightened citizens’ community (Mungiu-Pippidi, 2017b). In practice, though, that is not so easily done. Corrupt government are often treated like as enlightened elites and entrusted the ownership of anti-corruption programmes that will never take off – not only because they often are the wrong programmes, but because they really should be implemented against the main interests.
Fortunately, modern smartphones with Internet access provide a great shortcut to individual autonomy and enlightened participation. Any assistance towards increasing the percentage of ‘enlightened citizens’ armed with smartphones is worthwhile (Mungiu-Pippidi, 2017b). But for a transition strategy we need more than that.
We need a careful stakeholder analysis and coalition building. As a ground rule, whoever is competitive stands to lose in a particularistic society (exclusive or special devotion to a particular interest) (Mungiu-Pippidi, 2017b). He or she faces two options: to desert particularism and move on to a more meritocratic realm (hence the close correlation between corruption and brain drain), or to stay and fight. These are our recruitment grounds. It is essential to understand just who has the interest to challenge the rules of the game and who is prone to defend them, in other words, to identify the institutional status quo losers and winners. Who would remain winners even if they open the door to more merit-based competition? Who, among today’s losers, would gain something essential? These groups need to come together to make change happen.
As we have a very close correlation between rule of law and control of corruption, the results are often clear: when corruption is high, rule of law is below the threshold (Mungiu-Pippidi, 2017b). So, legal approaches to anti-corruption (an anti-corruption agency or a strong punitive campaign) can hardly be expected to deliver if the rule of law is weak. The same goes for civil service capacity building in countries where bureaucracy has never achieved autonomy from its rulers. What is needed for good governance is an autonomous class of magistrates and an autonomous class of bureaucrats (Mungiu-Pippidi, 2017b). These cannot be delivered by capacity building in the absence of domestic political agency. This is why the functional accountability tools are those associated with civil society agency. Voluntary implementation of accountability tools by groups involved (businesses who lose public tenders, for instance, or journalists seeking audience) generally works better than official implementation. The latter seldom delivers.
Entrepreneurs (SE) has been defined as persons who solve pressing and insurmountable social problems, making an immense, yet durable and irreversible social impact (Nowak et.al., 2020). Nowak et.al. (2020) claims that SEs do these remarkable things with minimal investments, having as assets their passion, commitment, big yet realistic visons for change, creativity, and entrepreneurial skills. Thus the description by Nowak et.al. (2020) of entrepreneurs is supported by the findings of Navarette Moreno and Agapitova (2017) that social Enterprises (SEs) in Africa have been found capable of addressing service delivery gaps for the poor, when traditional actors have not been able to close the delivery gap.
Mungiu-Pippidi (2017b) argues for coalition building and that the groups benefiting from a positive change need to come together to make change happen, and also to reflect over whom, when and how international partners can assist along the road to a virtuous circle.
Informed by the findings of Nowak et.al. (2020), Navarette Moreno and Agapitova (2017) and Mungiu-Pippidi (2017b), HR&S is seeking partnership with social entrepreneurs in Sub-Sahara African countries and with local stakeholders benefitting from a positive change as well as international partners who can assist HR&S with our mission.
Teambuilding & motivation
Mungiu-Pippidi (2017b) argues for coalition building and that the groups benefiting from a positive change need to come together to make change happen. HR&S adds to this argument that when these coalitions have been built, then team-building and motivation have to be addressed.
Members of a team
We need to put together a team that has the required knowledge, skills and ability to complete the tasks. When choosing the participant for each team, we must also consider what complementary skills and attitudes each member brings (Peacock, G., 2016). Teams that bring different styles together enjoy many benefits of cognitive diversity; increased creativity and innovation; improved decision making (Peacock, G., 2016). Each team member must then have an appreciation of the value each other team member can bring to the team, and how a diversity of opinion and some conflict will lead to better and faster decisions. According to Peacock, G. (2016) successful teams need to be small, between six and ten participants If larger teams are required, the team can be broken down into smaller groups for regular problem solving sessions.
The right team dynamics is also crucial. In a team, members are interdependent, they interact and depend on each other to achieve shared goals. Peacock, G. (2016) argues that in a successful team each participant has to; i) recognise the opportunity, ii) feel accountable for the entire company’s success, and iii) have the energy to persevere when the going gets tough. Team members must also trust each other, communicate openly, and be willing to accept conflict.
Training teams & leaders
To ensure a team is successful we need to provide training (Peacock, G., 2016). Training teams together rather than individually is preferred because: i) it helps teams develop, test and run processes such as coordination, ii) it enables team members to build trust, which is necessary for sharing information and knowledge, iii) it develops a shared memory of the awareness and ability of the team to identify and process information. Teams develop an awareness of which team member has knowledge on which topic. Shared memory is also important in creative problem-solving.
‘Leadership’ training shall not be confused with ‘management’ training (Peacock, G., 2016). Management training will improve our ability to dictate and manage individuals but not motivate, engage and develop individuals.
Virtual teams rarely, if ever, meet in a face-to-face setting and such team are becoming more common, for a variety of reasons. Townsend et. al. (1998) described virtual teams as groups of geographically and/or organizationally dispersed co-workers that are assembled using a combination of telecommunications and information technologies to accomplish an organisational task.
Virtual team members require great skills. Team members will be challenged to adapt to the new technologies that link the team. Team members must also learn new ways to express themselves and communicate. Challenges facing virtual teams highlight how traditional performance factors, goal clarification and communication, are even more important in virtual teams (Townsend et. al., 1998).
Cross-cultural team members require great skills. Team members will be diverse and thus must be able to manage advanced communication skills (Townsend et. al., 1998).
There is a complexity to teamwork that must be recognised when pulling a team together and teams cannot be left to develop their own internal processes (Hackman, 1990). Many teams can benefit from having an impartial observer/facilitator in the initial sessions to help to identify and improve the team dynamics and initially keep the project focused (Peacock, G., 2016). Peacock, G. (2016) mentions that besides team member ability also team member motivation and a coordination strategy is required for successful teams.
Hackman (1990) identified a number of actions required to ensure teams success.
- Career and reward system must include incentive to work collaboratively. Action must be taken to build a team and establish boundaries, giving the team authority to manage their internal processes and relationships, internally and externally.
- There needs to be a careful balance between managerial and team authority. Managers need to provide direction (where the team is aiming) and set outer limit constraints on team behaviour (things the team must never do). However, the team must have full authority for the methods to accomplish their tasks.
- Teams must have an enabling structure to succeed. Teams cannot be left to develop their own internal processes. An enabling structure has three elements: i) A well-defined team task that engages and sustains team members’ motivation. ii) A well-composed team (as small as possible) with clear boundaries, including members with technical and interpersonal skills. The team should be a good mix of different types of people. iii) Clear and specific expectations of the extents and limits of the teams accountability and authority limits.
- Providing reward, training and information systems that align with team working. Ensure the team has the necessary resources to succeed (equipment, tools, space, money and staff).
- Teams need coaching and development to obtain the skills required to work successfully as a team.
Peacock, G., (2016) also proposes a number of actions related to team management
- Alignment on direction: each individual must have a shared belief in the end goal
- High-quality interaction: participants must trust each other and openly communicate, with a willingness to accept conflict
- Team members are energised to take risks: this will create an innovative environment, where individuals will learn from each other and outside ideas.
Also deciding which problems to tackle is an important part of a successful team management (Peacock, G., 2016). Choose issues that need a collective, cross-boundary expertise. Avoid issues that could be handled by individual business units or functions, as these problems or opportunities can be addressed as part of business-as-usual.
Process of resolving problems
Organisations cannot improve unless they consistently seek out and resolve their problems (Cook, R and Jenkins, A., 2014). When a company engages its people in problem solving as part of their daily work, they feel more motivated, they do their jobs better, the organization’s performance improves, and a virtuous cycle starts to turn. Such anapproach can tap enormous potential for the company and its customers (Cook, R and Jenkins, A., 2014).
- Openness to talking about problem: It is important to have an openness to problem solving (Cook, R and Jenkins, A., 2014). Great
problem solving begins with being able to acknowledge problems without judgement. Hidden problems don’t get fixed and keep organisations from reaching their objectives.
- Willingness to see problems wherever they may be: Before you can acknowledge a problem, you have to be aware of it. Identifying problems, particularly before they grow into a crisis, is a skill that can be learned (Cook, R and Jenkins, A., 2014).
- Understanding that small problems matter: We need to understand that small problems matter as much as large organisational problems (Cook, R and Jenkins, A., 2014).
- Commitment to approaching problems methodically: (Cook, R and Jenkins, A., 2014). An effective process for identifying and solving problems involves five steps:
- Define the problem. Clarify what should be happening and what is happening. The gap between the two is where the problem lies. Defining the problem well ensures that the team has a shared understanding of the real issue.
- Identify root causes. Learn as much as possible about the problem, preferably by observing it as it occurs. This step is often skipped, but it is essential; without it there is no way of knowing whether you are solving the real problem.
- Develop a solution. Crafting a good solution rests on distinguishing cause from effect. A solution that tackles the root cause will eliminate the symptom that the problem causes; if the root cause has truly been found, removing the proposed solution will lead to the symptom’s return.
- Test and refine the solution. The solution must be tested to ensure it has the expected impact. If it solves only part of the problem, further rounds of the problem-solving process may be needed before the problem disappears completely. For validation, conduct a final experiment without the solution to see if the problem recurs.
- Adopt new standards. The last step is to incorporate the solution into standards for work, with training and follow-up to make sure everyone has adopted the new method. That should eliminate any possibility of recurrence; moreover, sharing the solution more broadly across the organization allows others to glean insights that might be
applicable in seemingly different scenarios.
- Recognition that observations are often more valuable than data: Observation and questioning partners and team members provide a powerful and immediate source of insights into processes, work flows, capabilities, and frustrations with current ways of working (Cook, R and Jenkins, A., 2014). Gathering and analysing financial and accounting data is geared toward financial outcomes and cannot replace gathering and analysing information about the operating processes.
- Ensure continuous improvement: Problems never cease to arise. Building a problem-solving culture that lasts is not about fixing particular problems but about always striving to do things better (Cook, R and Jenkins, A., 2014).
- Through having a process, we will generate more ideas faster and select ideas faster. If we find we always get the same results from our problem-solving/innovation meetings – maybe it is time to take a different view (Peacock, G., 2016). Reframing our problem and looking at it from different perspectives or viewpoints can help us to find different solutions – many of them different to the usual raft of solutions. A change of focus can reveal a solution that was lying just outside our frame of vision (Peacock, G., 2016).
- A true problem-solving organisation will have the ultimate goal for everyone in the organisation to own the responsibility and take the initiative to solve the problems that are most relevant to them (Peacock, G., 2016). In these organisations people build capabilities more quickly and collaborate across internal boundaries more effectively.
- Leaders shall be following a constant problem-solving approach, define the real problem, and rely on facts (rather than behave instinctively) (Peacock, G., 2016). Thus, leaders need to step back, be asking questions and take time to reflect (rather than jump to conclusions). Leaders need to commit to approaching problems methodically.
- Using a problem-solving process also allows teams to move faster, avoiding competition or conformity (Peacock, G., 2016). When working on complex problems in teams, teams tend to take too much time or too little time (Peacock, G., 2016). Teams take too much time because they do not have an agreed method to generate ideas or to select the best ideas. Teams take too little time because they generate too few solutions and then approve solutions quickly, without exploring all the possibilities. Teams that take too little time rarely challenge accepted ways of doing things.
- Barriers to innovation are pervasive and predictable, but not that strong (Peacock, G., 2016). The simplest and easiest way to overcome them is to help people notice what they have been overlooking. We shall take a different view and see what is right in front of us.
- When people compete, instead of looking for ways to develop ideas they actually tend to look for ways to destroy ideas (Peacock, G., 2016).
Cook, R. and Jenkins, A. (2014) Building a problem-solving culture that lasts. McKinsey & Company. https://www.gordianbusiness.com.au/published-articles/2017/9/4/building-a-problem-solving-culture-that-lasts (visited 20 June 2020).
Hackman, J.R. (1990) Groups that work (and those that don’t), San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Mungiu-Pippidi, A (2017a) Background Paper for the 2017 World Development Report. Corruption as social order. The World Bank, documents.worldbank.org
Downloaded March 2020.
Mungiu-Pippidi, A. (2017b) Seven Steps to Evidence-Based Anticorruption: A Roadmap. Rapport 2017:10 till Expertgruppen för biståndsanalys (EBA). www.eba.se. ISBN: 978-91-88143-34-1. Printed by Elanders Sverige AB Stockholm 2017.
Navarrete Moreno, C. and Agapitova, N. (2017) World Bank report. https://endeva.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/wb_africa-se-ecosystem_may8.pdf.
Peacock, G. (2016) Team Building for Rapid Results: Improve Relationships & Remove Barriers. In Problem Solving, Account Management. Editor Thain, J. e-book Bennelong Publishing Pty
Ltd. https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5385613ee4b0883f7108f96f/t/59acb044ff7c50083fd9aff0/1504489610485/Team+Building+for+Rapid+Results_3.pdf (visited
16 June 2020)
Townsend, A.M. & DeMarie, S.M. & Hendrickson, A.R. (1998), Virtual teams: Technology and the workplace of the future, Academy of Management Executive, vol.12, no. 3, pp.17-29.