Oct 3, 2019

Reflecting on Development Experiences through Case Studies: Takeaways from an IsDB-GDI Workshop in Jakarta

Katsumasa Hamaguchi , Senior Knowledge Management Specialist
Mohamed Ishtiaq Akbar , Country Manager
Tristan Dreisbach , Public Policy Consultant

Development practitioners routinely face difficult challenges during implementation, and questions about how to tackle them.  How should we deal with frequent staff turnover when continuity is important for project implementation? How should we deal with local government’s low awareness of a development challenge when their commitment is crucial to addressing that challenge? How should we deal with opposition from the local community when their cooperation is necessary? These are all real challenges project teams of the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) have faced during implementation of their projects.

The IsDB’s Indonesia Regional Hub invited members of the GDI team to present a case study workshop in Jakarta on August 12 and 13. The objective was to help IsDB and the Indonesian government document how they overcame implementation challenges and draw useful lessons for future operations. The 26 participants for this two-day session included development practitioners working in the project management units of five IsDB-financed projects in Indonesia, along with several representatives of Indonesia’s finance and planning ministries.  Katsu and Tristan from the GDI secretariat traveled to Jakarta to lead this workshop, working closely with Ishthiaq Akbar, the IsDB Indonesia Country Manager, and the leadership team of the Indonesia Regional Hub. The three of us – Katsu, Tristan, and Ishthiaq – were all greatly impressed by what the participants were able to accomplish and look forward to continued collaboration.

What did we do at the training?

Katsu and Tristan began by breaking down the key concepts underlying the GDI case writing methodology: the development challenge, the intervention, and the delivery challenges. As they explained these concepts, they led group activities allowing the members of each project management unit (as well as participants from the Indonesian government) to reflect upon their own projects and apply these ideas. The discussions around the delivery challenges were particularly interesting, as each project team analyzed their experiences and identified the biggest challenges they had to overcome. These challenges ranged from internal organization to dealing with dynamics among stakeholders.

After laying the groundwork for analysis, the trainers moved on to a discussion of how each project team could trace implementation of their interventions, with a focus on how they responded to the delivery challenges they had identified. The project teams then applied these methods to their own work and identified the pain points and inflection points that defined their implementation experiences. The workshop culminated in the production of a case study outline for each project.

What’s next?

The workshop provided a good opportunity for the government stakeholders and the IsDB Regional Hub team to understand the case studies’ structured approach to documenting delivery challenges, as well as the practical solutions and remedial actions that worked in the field.

Although each of the projects had its own unique scenarios and issues, another takeaway is that there were systemic challenges that affected implementation across these projects. This suggested that an institutional or macro-level approach could yield long-term and wide-ranging solutions to improve project efficiency and effectiveness.

During the workshop, the IsDB and GDI teams identified two projects that were good candidates for GDI case studies, given the issues these projects encountered and how those challenges affected implementation. Representatives from the respective ministries overseeing these projects expressed a willingness to consider developing them into full-fledged case studies, as long as they received the necessary support and facilitation. IsDB and GDI are exploring how to help make this happen.

Trainings like this one are a crucial part of GDI’s work, and the GDI team will continue to provide training to its partners around the world. Ultimately, they enable practitioners to share knowledge and develop the skills needed to produce effective, analytically rigorous delivery case studies. As we build up the Global Delivery Library and participate in outreach events, we contribute to GDI’s mission: connecting practitioners around the world to share practical experiences about how they overcame difficult delivery challenges to achieve their development goals.

To learn more about working with GDI to produce delivery case studies at: http://www.globaldeliveryinitiative.org/global-delivery-library. Or drop us a line at gdi@worldbank.org.