But it's a statement I throw at my training participants on Day 1 whenever we are doing Project Planning or RBM. And it's this:
A Problem Is Not The Absence Of A Solution, It's An Existing Negative State
OK - a development project has to address a development problem. If not, donors aren't going to touch it. So you have to think like a problem solver.
And what are the development problems? Look at the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals). They're things like education, hunger and poverty.
What they are NOT is building schools, or introducing new agricultural techniques. Those are activities and - just maybe - solutions.
So you can't build a project around the idea 'there is no school in the village'. Or around the issue that 'farmers aren't trained'. They might be solutions to a development problem, but they are not the problem itself.
'No school' is a big 'so what?' - the issue is access to education, and a school isn't automatically the solution. Maybe all you need is a school bus.
Likewise for 'untrained farmers' - training might contribute - via improved agricultural production - to better livelihoods or improved nutrition - but so might better irrigation, or better seeds.
And it suggests knee-jerk, automatic responses - doing the same things that have been done before.
Every situation and community is unique. And that means putting aside our old habits and expectations and understanding the context, development problem and stakeholders. Only then can we put a plan in place to address the problem, rather than doing the same old things that may have worked elsewhere or in the past.
And if you want to improve your ability to identify and respond to problems that matter to communities and donors, and deliver development results, then you have to understand that results-based thinking comes first.
And if you want your projects to really deliver, then get on board with Results-Based Management.
As UN Habitat says, it's: "not a tool - it is a mindset" that focuses on "the actual social and economic benefits of projects for beneficiaries."
And that starts by focusing on the actual problems.
We've trained hundreds of people on RBM, and our course is available online.
Check it out at https://eldtraining.teachable.com/p/mfr.