Using Collective Learning to Build the Trust Needed to Solve Complex Development Problems

By John Tomlinson

Writing in Learning for Well-being Magazine, Synergos’ John Tomlinson examines how we use collective learning processes to both uncover important information and build alignment among stakeholders in complex development initiatives:

“Systemic change requires collaboration. Solutions to poverty and other complex development challenges are often built in silos – and therefore fail. Governments, civil society, non-governmental organisations, corporations, marginalised communities, and other participants in systemic change must work together – not in silos – to achieve long-term solutions to poverty and other complex development challenges...

But building such collaboration can be difficult. Even with the best of intentions, differences in power, perspectives, or interests can make collaboration difficult. In some cases, past or existing conflict can be even bigger obstacles to collaboration.

Collective learning is an important part of our work for two reasons. It helps build trust among stakeholders, enabling them to get beyond conflict or different interests to develop shared understanding of the problem and co-create solutions. In addition, collective learning often surfaces vital information, particularly from an initiative’s intended beneficiaries, that can inform programme design and implementation.”

Read more in Learning for Well-being Magazine.