where it matters most.
I have helped dozens of global institutions identify new ways of working when the old ones don’t cut it anymore. More importantly I’ve unblocked those critical first few steps forward, through rigorous change management & real-world testing.
This experience includes an equal mix of emerging policy challenges at a global level; and reconfiguring country-level responses to complex crises (e.g. the DR Congo, Sudan, C.A.R., Sri Lanka).
My approach is people-centred, and combines credible senior-level engagement with co-design & testing with those closest to delivery.
Summary of experience
As a consultant I’ve led a dozen-plus major engagements with transnational institutions, going back to 2007. These have entailed leadership of strategy implementation and/or first-generation responses on complex emerging issues.
Clients have spanned the full range of stakeholders in highly fragile places–including peacekeeping and diplomatic missions, humanitarian NGOs, multilateral development institutions, and domestic governments.
Perhaps most importantly I have made substantial contributions to the greater engagement of marginalised groups and communities in complex crises, with several “first-ever” policy initiatives in this regard.
Specific areas of focus include:
re-design of corporate systems for monitoring, evaluation & planning: e.g. UNHCR’s approach to “exit strategy”; multi-donor stabilisation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
strategic review of organisational structure & partnerships: e.g. World Bank / EU / UN collaboration in conflict situations; global consolidation and shared services for Save the Children.
development of first-generation policy on emerging challenges: e.g. community engagement by UN peace operations; “pivot” of a major humanitarian agency to engage with conflict mitigation.
evaluation of pilot, experimental and highly politicised initiatives: e.g. “strategic assessments” for the UN Security Council; inclusive leadership within a major humanitarian organisation.
My early background is in risk management, working with transnationals like Reed Elsevier, Diageo and Unilever to mitigate complex reputational & regulatory risks, and I am admitted as a legal practitioner of the NSW Supreme Court.
Formative experiences as an international civil servant then included coordination and assessment of initiatives to consolidate a struggling peace process in Sri Lanka; and to “stabilise” DR Congo following its democratic transition. This was followed, in 2013, by rostering at the most senior technical level for evaluation/planning within the UN Secretariat (P5), and the Australian government (EL1/2).
Technical qualifications include degrees in law (University of New South Wales), finance (ibid) and public policy (Harvard University).
About my approach
I believe in developing approaches that those closest to the problem want, need, and get excited about.
In practice this means a robust co-design model which is responsive to highly contentious stakeholder environments, and often tremendously difficult operating environments. This can be summarised as the 4Ds:
Discovery of stakeholder perspectives, and best practices from peer institutions. This often includes listening exercises with internal staff; and with hard-to-reach groups that are normally marginalised in policy-making.
Definition of the real underlying problem, taking into account both (i) systems and processes, and (ii) people and culture. This involves a range of quantitative and qualitative methods to help us “make sense” of what we have discovered.
Development of context-specific solutions with key stakeholders. In many cases this involves rapid prototyping, or a formal pilot, to “stress-test” and build ownership.
Delivery through a structured pilot, and iteration. In many situations this includes accompaniment of key staff to help them deal with new and unfamiliar challenges, and operational trouble-shooting where needed.
This represents a full innovation cycle, and should of course be adjusted to needs in the specific case. I am more than happy to provide informal input on specific questions within this range.
I work through my small business, or on a freelance basis, as suits the client. This includes both retainer work for a flexible number of days, and lump sum contracts for major projects.
I am based in the United Kingdom. The current circumstances of the covid-19 pandemic make extended overseas travel unfeasible, but I can draw on twenty years’ experience with remote working in tough environments (including established processes and specialist equipment).
If you would like to discuss a specific challenge, or check availability, please do get in touch: ian (at) iandquick.com.