Case studies

This is a selection of work over the last fifteen years, where I’ve helped clients with particularly difficult or interesting challenges.

The products are usually internal, but where they are available I have linked them. If you’re interested to discuss how these approaches might be relevant to your circumstances, please do get in touch.

Re-thinking how a major humanitarian organisation should engage with a changing conflict landscape

Re-thinking how a major humanitarian organisation should engage with a changing conflict landscape

We are in the midst of a twenty-year high in the frequency & duration of conflict, and the level of forced displacement. This poses enormous challenges for humanitarian organisations, with rapidly shifting expectations from both the communities they serve and their traditional financial partners.

This work supported the President and Board to set direction going into the next global strategy. The goal was to set the evolving evidence base for peacebuilding initiatives alongside a diagnostic of the agency’s comparative advantages, and its existing culture & values.

A second phase of work mapped out feasibility in detail, including country use-cases, operational implications, risks, and how to pilot.

(International Rescue Committee, 2018-19)

Making UN peace operations more “people-focused”

Making UN peace operations more “people-focused”

It is by now widely accepted that sustainable conflict transformation must be inclusive, and not dominated by a small elite. But that isn’t easy in the tough political and security environments that characterise modern peacekeeping.

This three-year project identified practical measures to improve the responsiveness of peace operations to regular peoples’ needs, fears, and ambitions, and led to the first-ever policy guidance on community engagement for the global organisation.

A key feature was a one-year “pilot” in the Central African Republic, looking at communication, consultation and priority-setting in field offices across the country.

(UN Secretariat / UN Stabilisation Mission in C.A.R., 2015-18)

Unblocking the implementation of multilateral needs assessments in crisis situations

Unblocking the implementation of multilateral needs assessments in crisis situations

Why do some strategic frameworks get implemented, and others just remain on paper?

This project looked at Recovery & Peacebuilding Assessments (RPBAs), the peak framework for collaboration between the World Bank, UN and EU in crisis environments.

It reviewed implementation across a dozen countries, over a span of nearly twenty years. The aim was to map out “what worked” for steering and operational coordination; monitoring and tracking results; and organising funding streams.

One key output was common inter-institutional guidance on the implementation “software” that needs to accompany RPBAs, based on emerging good practices and aspirational "gold standards".

(World Bank, European Union, UN system, 2016-17)

Encouraging dialogue & reflective learning amongst practitioners in the toughest places

Encouraging dialogue & reflective learning amongst practitioners in the toughest places

The policy conversation on fragile and conflict-affected places is centered in the wrong places, i.e. overwhelmingly in Western ‘donor’ capitals. It also includes far too few of those closest to the issues, with a strong bias to think tanks and “policy-makers” in those same locations.

One Step Forward is a three-year oral history project to demonstrate a different way of doing things.

Each episode is a long-form interview with a highly experienced practitioner, reflecting on meaning, motivation, and career learning. We cut across traditional ministry and sector boundaries, and prioritise representation of women and the global South.

(various partners, 2017-)

Making decisions faster and smarter at the peak of the UN system

Making decisions faster and smarter at the peak of the UN system

As an operational institution, the UN family is notoriously complicated. This is unavoidable given its incredibly complex stakeholder environment, and the breadth of issues in which it is engaged.

This advisory project helped clarify decision processes at the inter-departmental level. The goal was tackle some well-known but very entrenched structural challenges—including overall speed and responsiveness, connections between political and development work, and the mainstreaming of human rights.

The products fed into changed internal management processes; SOPs and tools for policy-planning; and medium-term planning to strengthen capacities.

(UN Office of the Secretary-General, 2015-16)

Better handover and collaboration between humanitarian & development institutions

Better handover and collaboration between humanitarian & development institutions

Linking humanitarian and development actors is never easy. Expectations are different; systems are often incompatible; and there are very different sets of stakeholders. There is also legitimate fear about a decline in service standards for the most vulnerable.

This engagement looked at how the UN Refugee Agency can responsibly scale back its involvement with situations of protracted displacement, and encompassed “pilot" work in eastern Sudan, Zambia, Uganda, and Kyrgyzstan.

Deliverables included a roadmap for changes to strategic planning processes; performance standards and evaluation; relationships with stakeholders and donors; and human resources. All of this was done in collaboration with external stakeholders, including a key partnership with the UN Development Programme.

(UNHCR / UNDP, 2012-14)

Managing a robust, inter-agency M&E system for “stabilisation"

Managing a robust, inter-agency M&E system for “stabilisation"

Eastern DR Congo hosts dozens of organisations involved with security, peacebuilding, and the strengthening of state authority, and as many financial contributors again.

This was a long-term role to develop and manage shared processes for information-sharing, measurement of overall outcomes, and integrated reporting.

The end-goal was to support steering mechanisms at the political level with a fully integrated, usable “dashboard” of efforts on the ground and overall trends.

(Multi-donor / multi-agency consortium, 2009-11)

Participatory M&E for community-level stabilisation initiatives

Participatory M&E for community-level stabilisation initiatives

The 2002-07 period in Sri Lanka was marked by an uneasy ceasefire, and high levels of violence and repression on all sides.

This role was about finding opportunities for community-level initiatives to reduce tensions, facilitate early recovery where possible, and complement the ongoing political process.

Outcomes included common risk assessments to adjust approaches for a deteriorating security situation; and community-driven M&E tools across four participating UN agencies.

(Australian Agency for International Development / UNICEF, 2005-07)

Integrating risk management into decision-making processes

Integrating risk management into decision-making processes

How can staff be helped to recognise and manage risks that are outside of their normal expertise?

In this role I led development of decision-support systems for large corporate clients, working with a start-up in the regulatory-tech sector. The goal was to integrate just-in-time advice into the decision-making process, freeing up specialist resources for the most critical issues.

Responsibilities included management of the research team and point-in-time accuracy of all offerings; development of new service lines for safeguarding and occupational health & safety; and building client-specific support systems.

(LOTJ Pty Limited, 2002-04)

Case studies

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