The belief in the ‘trickle down’ effect is alive and well. Not just in politics and economics, but in how organisations are run and humanitiarian aid is implemented. We believe that policies change things on the frontline. Or by training the managers, the project staff will also change.
And just like in economics, no matter how often we see examples of how the ‘trickle down’ is more of a ‘trickle or rush up’, we hold onto the belief.
Perhaps it’s because we think it is easier. Easier to measure. Easier to count the number of participants in a workshop than measuring any sort of changed behaviour. Perhaps, too, it is because the project managers have time to join the training sessions or senior managers have time to spend hours in policy meetings. For the frontlne staff, it is one more thing amongst the 20 other initiatives they are being told to do.
And yes, of course, there are rare stories of when ‘trickle down’ works. Those are the ones we hold on to because they reinforce our belief system. But they are rare. And yet, we use them and discount the thousands of other stories telling us the opposite. Telling us our belief system needs to change.
Perhaps it’s time to listen to the other stories and reimagine a way forward. If we say we believe in our ideas like we do, it’s time to listen and change.
What voices do you need to listen to today that you have been ignoring?