Practical Insights on Failure

failure in international development

Failure is the f-word in international development. Unspoken in polite company, yet a reality we all must face.

Failure in International Development

We often work in failed states, in market failure economies, on intractable problems that have stymied others for decades, if not centuries. How arrogant or foolish of us to expect success 100% of the time?

But if you read our project reports, we have “uneven successes”, “lessons learned”, and every other euphemism we can imagine just to keep from saying one simple word: failure.

Project Failure Examples

We are on a mission to make failure acceptable in development discussions. There is great value in examining our mistakes and learning from failure as we go beyond the easy and the simple.

Let’s navel-gaze at where we have all gone wrong in international development:

Plan for Failure to Succeed with Artificial Intelligence Healthcare

Plan for Failure to Succeed with Artificial Intelligence Healthcare

Published on: Apr 04 2024 by Guest Writer - Comments Off on Plan for Failure to Succeed with Artificial Intelligence Healthcare
Recent advances in Artificial Intelligence (AI) suggest that AI applications could transform healthcare delivery in the Global South. However, as researchers and...
What the Top 10 ICTworks Themes of 2023 Say About ICT4D in 2024

What the Top 10 ICTworks Themes of 2023 Say About ICT4D in 2024

Published on: Jan 18 2024 by Wayan Vota - Comments Off on What the Top 10 ICTworks Themes of 2023 Say About ICT4D in 2024
I started ICTworks fifteen (15!) years ago to engage ICT4D leaders. Now this humble site is the blog of record for the digital development community. We have 25,000...
Wow! 33% of COVID-19 Digital Learning Platforms Already Failed

Wow! 33% of COVID-19 Digital Learning Platforms Already Failed

Published on: Jan 26 2023 by Wayan Vota - Comments Off on Wow! 33% of COVID-19 Digital Learning Platforms Already Failed
Amid the global learning crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic, technology-enabled remote learning became a lifeline for many children and young people. However, the...
6 Reasons Your Digital Innovations Can Fail to Reach Adoption

6 Reasons Your Digital Innovations Can Fail to Reach Adoption

Published on: Jan 12 2023 by Laura Scanlon - 1 Comment
Most new innovations fail. Failure is an expected part of the journey leading to eventual success. But what can organisations do to give the good ideas –...
10 Common ICT4D Myths Still Relevant 12 Years Later

10 Common ICT4D Myths Still Relevant 12 Years Later

Published on: Aug 18 2022 by Guest Writer - Comments Off on 10 Common ICT4D Myths Still Relevant 12 Years Later
 Information and communication technology is changing the world around us day by day. Most of these changes are, of course, for the better. One of the first groups...
6 Reasons Why We Keep Failing at Digital Development Interventions

6 Reasons Why We Keep Failing at Digital Development Interventions

Published on: Feb 03 2022 by Guest Writer - 10 Comments
Clearing out boxes of old books and reports recently, I was struck by how many ICT4D initiatives there have been over the last 20 years, many of which have simply...
Is Twitter Now Dead for Lively #ICT4D Discussions? Asking for a Friend…

Is Twitter Now Dead for Lively #ICT4D Discussions? Asking for a Friend…

Published on: Dec 30 2020 by Wayan Vota - 28 Comments
#ICT4D Twitter Used to be Great I remember a heyday of Twitter for ICT4D discussions. Around 2009-2010, Twitter was the place to be for great digital development...
Why Google and Apple Failed at COVID-19 Digital Response

Why Google and Apple Failed at COVID-19 Digital Response

Published on: Dec 10 2020 by Wayan Vota - 6 Comments
Back in April 2020, Apple and Google announced COVID-19 contact tracing technology for iPhone and Android mobile phones. At our Global Digital Health Forum session...
Why ICT4D Projects Fail Even With Community Engagement

Why ICT4D Projects Fail Even With Community Engagement

Published on: Sep 24 2020 by Guest Writer - 1 Comment
Successes in development projects are often reported but failures, however minor, are typically omitted from many types of reports. This is not a helpful practice...
Blockchain Use Case Failure: 43 Projects and Zero Impact Found

Blockchain Use Case Failure: 43 Projects and Zero Impact Found

Published on: Dec 10 2018 by Wayan Vota - 9 Comments
Blockchain and other distributed ledger technology offers the potential for radical transparency in data collection, management, and use across international development....