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A Development 2.0 manifesto

Inspired by the 45 propositions for social media, below is a modest attempt at putting together some initial thoughts for a Development 2.0 (the application of web 2.0 principles to the development sector) manifesto. This is very much a work in progress, so feel free to add your comments and point out gaps:

1. Think business models, not only cool applications. What we need is the development sector equivalent of companies like Google or Amazon: innovators that radically disrupt the usual way of doing business.

2. Free your data. In the era of mash-ups and APIs, there is no excuse to keep proprietary control over data that could contribute to better policy making and reduce poverty.

3. Fight the not invented here syndrome. Leave duplication of efforts and the ivory tower syndrome to the Development 1.0 world. Use social media to scout the best ideas to achieve development results and catalyse diverse networks around them. Acknowledge that the best expertise might lie outside of your organization. Embrace open standards and make it easy for information to flow from one organization to another.

4. Think “real simple” business processes, from fundraising to reporting. Social media can radically simplify what are often unnecessarily bureaucratic processes that generate significant overheads. Free the energy to concentrate on your core mission.

5. Lower cost of failure. It was difficult to justify before, it’s indefensible now. There’s no reason to sink millions that could finance development projects in expensive IT solutions when there are so many cheaper options available (from open source to the cloud).

6. Fewer “lessons learned” documents, more open conversations about failures. Create an environment where it is ok to fail and talk about failure, so long as you are serious about learning from your mistakes and you don’t spend too much time following the wrong path. Fail often, fail quickly. Trust donors to understand that development is a complex issue.

7. Embrace transparency. You can now make it really simple to track how you are spending donor money. Let everyone hear the voices and experiences of people affected by your projects.

8. What you don’t have resources to do, others might jump at. Social media are great at releasing volunteer energies around your mission. Engage and go beyond your traditional support base.

9. Value (and plan for) conversations with your constituencies, at all levels. Every employee in your organization now can and, most importantly, should want to interact with as many stakeholders as possible through social media to further your mission. Establish a constant dialogue with donors so they don't feel like they are ATM machines. Thousands of conversations a day should be a coveted objective, not a dreaded scenario.

10. Plan for serendipity. Do focus on results, but be open to get to them in unexpected ways, suggested by your the end users. Incorporate user-driven innovation in your proposals.

11. Think about the full circle. Found an innovative way to tackle a development issue? Go beyond the initial success. Use networks to scale up quickly. Make the connection between the results of your experimentation and the core mission of your organization obvious.

12. Cast a wide net. Your partners and colleagues are your filters to sift through unexpected sources of development knowledge. Collect snippets of information from multiple sources and highlight patterns among them. Use social media to tap into weak ties and bring together innovative perspectives to solve tough development issues.

13. Go beyond polished documents. Think visual. Documents and publications are not the natural unit of knowledge. Release unfinished products if this can help advance your cause and get others to contribute. A visual a la Gapminder can be more impactful on policy makers than a publication.

(With thanks to Anna Bottiglieri, Janice Ryu and Ryan Hahn for their comments, and Euan Semple for being a continuous source of inspiration.)


Submitted by Mike on
A provocative list, Giulio! It seems to me that, implicit in this list, is a belief that we need to infuse ideas/principles/processes consistent with user-driven design into the 'international development' space. This seems a quite useful way of looking at things. I take issue with the first half of #6 ('fewer "lessons learned" documents'), but agree wholeheartedly with the rest of the item ('more open conversations about failure'). One additional item might be something like "Think people, not just publications" or "Extend your publications with people". (Obviously I need to work on the terminology here -- perhaps others can do so in the comments section here.) One plea I am hearing increasingly is along the lines of "that toolkit (report, etc.) is great, but what we really need is to work with the person who developed that toolkit". The analogy here is that you don't teach someone to fish merely by giving them the fishing pole. Publications like those that the Bank produces should be thought of as instigators of conversations and collaborations (and possibly technical assistance) around related topics, not documents of what happened in the past. -Mike ps I would split #14 into two items.

Not such a modest attempt Giulio. It is harder than it might seem at first glance to actually implement this in reality. An example would be item 4. 'Think “real simple” business processes', which we have embraced wholeheartedly with Akvo Really Simple Reporting. However, try to tell an institutional funder that they don't need 30 page long reports. They like the "simple" in theory, but in practice is it hard to wean them off the "thick Word report syndrome", as I like to call it. Another one is 6. "more open conversations about failures". Again, people like it in theory, but it is hard in practice to actually bring this out in the open. Much is silently swept under the carpet today. However, our effort is relatively new and we are seeing good progress across the board. With people like you, Giulio, writing about these issues, I think we will gradually build up an acceptance that things can actually be done differently. In fact, I depend on that happening. :) Best regards, Thomas,

Submitted by giulio quaggiotto on
Thank you everyone for the comments (and spotting the missing number!). Mike: "publications as instigators of conversations and collaborations, not documents of what happened in the past". Brilliant! Thomas: keep my fingers crossed.. really simple reporting HAS to happen. Giulio

Giulio, I love this manifesto! I practice a number of your points in much of my work, and it's great to have you list out all that we can & should be doing. In fact, I'd love to have you cover these points at a Technology Salon ( - an in-person conversation with technology and development thought leaders. I can see your points eliciting great discussion with those who embrace and those who fear 2.0 change.

Submitted by Sabrina Birner on
Hi Giulio, I've stumbled upon this posting, what a nice surprise to find you here. It was very refreshing to read these ideas, and to see a bridge between the web 2.0 world and the development world. So what are your ideas for what an institution like the WBG can do to foster this kind of approach? (Hosting this blog is a good start). Sabrina

This is an excellent first cut Giulio, and I'm glad you posted this, especially since it touches on what I consider the two most key cornerstones of rethinking development: focus on business models and embrace failure. I think the latter is key: it's not only the costs of failure (money, human resources, etc.) that have made it unattractive in the past, but also a culture where "trying" something out isn't valued as much as "making sure everything works." Often, the culture of safety runs contrary to innovation. If an organization were to embrace _smart_ failure (and not failure due to poor forethought and preparation), that organization would do a lot to encourage its stakeholders to come up with new business models that aren't tied to existing ways of thinking. Not all of those business models will work, but that's the point: an organization can learn from what doesn't work just as well as its successes.

Submitted by giulio quaggiotto on
Hi Sabrina, looks like it's a small world :-) In answer to your question: I really like Mike's idea of treating publications as the beginning of a conversation with experts. I also think the recently re-launched API (, making data available to the developers' community is a great step forward. More ideas here: Sameer, "smart failure" is exactly what I had in mind: more incubators a la Social Innovation Camp (, the development equivalent of the Board of Innovation ( Nesta ( is a good model for us in the development sector to follow.

Submitted by Paola Storchi and Nanette Dewester on
We give you a standing ovation on this inspiring and thought provoking post! We would like to add just one component: An agreement on how to energize and sustain the 13 components of the Manifesto. Example: in order to protect and preserve this Manifesto we agree to take on innovative ways of connecting, communicating and thinking so that we foster a truly authentic conversation and we ensure these steps are able to be fully utilized at their best. In sum: everyone supports and stands behind the success of these components. "the sum is greater than its parts" Many thanks for inspiring us! Happy Sunday Paola & Nanette

Submitted by Shannon on
This is an inspiring list. However, to accomplish this represents a change in mindset/culture, which is not easy to do. I have found that those who use social networking tools are self-selected as those who are more likely anyway to share, collaborate, be open. The tools make it easier. But there is still a lot of resistance, a tendency to cling to the way we've always done things. I would like to see a little more about collaboration. Think the wiki aspect of 2.0.

Submitted by Charlotte on
Hi Giulio, Thanks for this interesting list! As a former Kiva fellow, I am currently researching Development 2.0 vs. 1.0 for my masters dissertation at LSE. Do you know of any interesting academic literature on this topic that I should take a look at? Thanks!

Submitted by giulio quaggiotto on
Hi Charlotte, thanks for stopping by and good luck with your masters! See my answer to a similar question that was posed in the past here: Cheers, Giulio

Submitted by Ian on
Giulio - thanks for reminding me of this excellent post today on Twitter. Some really great ideas here. I can see some of my colleagues commented on this previously. A couple of additional ideas that come to mind: 1. Participation - even beyond transparency I think we need to look at ownership and leadership of development by "beneficiaries" of aid - both governments, but also citizens. Finding ways to involve beneficiaries directly in the planning, execution and evaluation of projects is I think a must and there are some interesting innovations in this area whether it be through mobile technology or approaches such as participatory budgeting. 2. Untying technical assistance - i.e. as has been done for goods, finding ways to separate funding from provision of technical assistance, expertise and knowledge and using more "southern" knowledge. This is important since the agency that provides funding isn't necessarily the best equipped to provide the needed technical assistance. Multilateral agencies can play a particular role here as knowledge "brokers" matching needs, expertise and funding. Looking forward to seeing Development 2.0 in action some day soon.

Submitted by tim on
Giulio I am stealing this for a conversation on dairy development in the UK!! Tim

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