• Blog
  • 3 March 2021

Development Initiatives’ strategy 2021–2030: what’s new?

DI's Executive Director Harpinder Collacott looks at how our new strategy will unlock insight, shine a light on progress and empower others over the next decade

Written by Harpinder Collacott

Executive Director

When an organisation launches a new strategy, a key question everyone wants to ask is what’s new and what’s changing as a result? In Development Initiatives’ (DI’s) new strategy there are five things to highlight that guide how we will move forward.

Bringing our foundational principles firmly into the strategy

At the heart of the new strategy we have put the six foundational principles that were held closely by the founders of DI and passed onto me – these are: people, high performance, perseverance, simplicity, transformation and partnerships. They are based on the core aspects of DI that have evolved over the last 30 years, which we want to embed as a permanent reference point for ourselves and those who work with us, to set out the fundamental basis of how we work. As the detail of what we do evolves over time, these principles will remain firm and keep us centred on what matters most to DI.

The first principle, people, is the one I want to highlight. While DI is a data organisation, our passion for data is driven by our commitment to making people’s lives better and the power data has to facilitate this. We will work only on projects that can bring about positive change in the lives of people around the world who are living in poverty, are at greatest risk of being left behind or have the least resilience. We are committed to putting data to use for the good of people – the change it brings must be rooted in responding to their needs.

Distilling our focus into three drivers of change

We have distilled our focus into three drivers of change that will maximise our impact and help us to achieve our mission. These are:

  • Strengthen data ecosystems to increase the collection, sharing and use of data that is open, comprehensive and underpinned by responsible production and management.
  • Increase use of data-driven evidence to contribute to an evidence base by turning data into insight and actionable analysis that can be used in policy and practice.
  • Create a culture of data use to increase skills, expertise and confidence in data, showing how data can drive better outcomes, and provide digital tools that make data use accessible and easy.

The strategy-development process identified these as critical factors to enable change at policy and programme level. It is therefore a problem if data systems remain weak, data and evidence are not valued or used, or there is reluctance to apply evidence to inform decision-making. Data has the power to unlock insight, shine a light on progress and empower people to increase accountability.

Putting partners into our mission statement and at the heart of the strategy

We have always been a trusted partner, and over the years we have worked in close collaboration with hundreds of stakeholders, guiding and supporting where we have the expertise to help. And we now want working in partnership to define what we do and how we do it across the board.

All DI’s work will be guided by the needs of our partners – what is most useful and relevant to them. We will share guidance, learning and training to help them apply the power of data to tackle poverty, address growing inequality, and build resilience in systems and communities. And our partners can be anyone (governments, civil society organisations, impact investors, donors or international NGOs) at any level (global, regional, national or local).

Making explicit what we will not do

We will remain politically neutral and independent and make sure everyone who works with us understands the importance of this to us. We will never fit facts to suit an agenda, ensuring our analysis is objective, open and focused on revealing what the data can tell us, whatever that may be.

We will not directly deliver interventions on the ground. Instead, we will focus on how our skills and expertise in data will enable this work by others. That is why our aims are based on supporting partners to:

  • better respond to people’s needs through improved quality and use of data and evidence in policymaking
  • improve the quantity, quality and coherence of public finance and private investment
  • challenge systemic and structural barriers to equity and support the reform of existing systems.

Expanding our regional presence

To achieve all this, and ensure we are closer to our partners whose needs we are responding to, DI will work through a new regionalised hub approach. Over the next ten years we will grow our regional hubs around the world and increase capacity in these regions and countries to serve our partners better.

We are excited to embark on the next ten years with a clear vision, focus and way of working that will enable us to make the best contribution possible to creating the world we want to see.