If I eat ice cream everyday, I satisfy my sweet tooth but in the long term it’s likely to have negative effects on my weight. Sometimes actions and goals have the intended, hoped for impact. Sometimes they don’t. And sometimes they have both positive and negative impacts, even though we tend to focus on the positive.
A less simplistic example might be the professionalisation of humanitarian aid. After the Rwanda genocide in 1994, the aid community was in crisis. One of the many ‘pushes’ that came as a result was a move to ‘professionalise’ aid organisations and staff. And there has been many positive benefits to this move. However, there also might some negative, largely unintended impacts too.
With the move to professionalisation, came a more ‘corporate’ approach to aid organisations. This ‘corporatisation’ also brought positive and negative impacts. These shifts were happening at the same time as the internet and digital technologies were and are transforming the world in which all live in. As we became more corporate we also sought to professionalise more. The ratchet turned. And one of the key corporate industry leaders/think tanks for technology and digital is Gartner. However, Gartner’s primary audience is for-profit corporate companies. The result of which has been more and more aid organisations who are seeking strategic advice for their digital transformation turn to Gartner who advise them (unintentionally) to become a data company.
And now, aid agencies who sought to professionalise have turned into corporate data companies. Certainly not the intent of those wanting to improve the delivery of aid after Rwanda.
Perhaps it’s time for a rethink?