PDIA in Action: Challenges & Experiences


Friday, March 1, 2019, 12:00pm to 1:00pm


Democracy Lab (R414AB), Rubenstein Building 4th Floor, HKS

Salimah SamjiSpeaker: Salimah Samji, Director of the Building State Capability program at CID

About the talk: Building State Capability (BSC) program uses the Problem Driven Iterative Adaptation (PDIA) approach to help organizations develop the capability to solve complex problems and to implement public policies. PDIA is a process of facilitated emergence which focuses on problems (not solutions) and follows a step by step process (not a rigid plan) that allows for flexible learning and adaptation. In this seminar, Salimah will discuss the challenges and experiences BSC has faced when implementing PDIA in-the-field. She will draw on examples from BSC’s work in Albania and Sri Lanka, and talk about the recent launch of the PDIAToolkit, a Do-it-Yourself kit for teams to use when solving complex problems.

About the Speaker: Salimah Samji is the Director of Building State Capability (BSC). She has more than 15 years of experience working in international development on the delivery of public services, transparency and accountability, strategic planning, monitoring, evaluation and learning. She joined CID in 2012 to help create the BSC program. Today, she is responsible for providing vision, strategic leadership, oversight and managing projects and research initiatives. Salimah also leads BSC’s work on digital learning.

Before joining CID, she was an independent consultant working for the World Bank on issues of governance, and the Hewlett Foundation on strategic planning for one of their grantees. She has worked as a senior program manager at Google.org, leading a transparency and accountability initiative focused on empowering citizens and decision-makers, by making information on service delivery outcomes publicly available. Salimah has also worked at the World Bank as a social/rural development and monitoring and evaluation specialist in South Asia.

She has a Bachelor of Mathematics from the University of Waterloo (Canada) and a Masters in Public Administration in International Development (MPA/ID) from the Harvard Kennedy School. She is a qualified Casualty Actuary who changed careers after working for 18 months in Afghan refugee camps with a Canadian NGO (FOCUS Humanitarian Assistance) based in Pakistan. Salimah has worked and lived in Kenya, India, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Canada and the USA.