Dr Ben Taylor
BFP: What do you do?
BT: I develop ideas about how development could be done better, applying a more systemic approach to new fields and finding new ways of implementing development. I also provide technical assistance to development programmes on the implementation and evaluation of a more integrated approach to development problems, incorporating public, private and non-governmental sectors. I also teach on Springfield’s ‘Making Markets Work’ training courses aimed at donors, practitioners, and the private sector.
BFP: What is the best part about your job?
BT: Getting to really develop my thoughts and research at the cutting edge of effective development and then put these thoughts into practice. Bridging the academic/practitioner divide is a function that is largely absent from development and so I am glad to be able to play a role in addressing this.
BFP: What have been your greatest challenges?
BT: The greatest challenge is in trying to convince people to break with what they know and think differently about development. Many people talk about systemic change and sustainability without putting it at the heart of what they do.
BFP: How have you overcome these challenges? / What advice, would you give to others?
BT: Just like in systemic change programmes themselves, the key to changing behaviour is an integrated approach which requires different strategies in different circumstances. Publication of research, conducting training programmes and advising programmes directly all help the ultimate goal of more effective and sustainable development benefitting larger numbers of poor people.
BFP: If someone wants to do what you do, where should they start?
BT: Conducting research demonstrating the potential of a more systemic approach to development is something which can be embraced in any organisation with developmental objectives. Whatever your job, if you continue to ask why a problem exists you are more likely to get to the root of a problem. In attempting to do something about it, ask what will happen after I leave? Will the problem simply resurface?
BFP: Finally; what do you hope to get out of being part of the BFP community?
BT: From BFP I hope to both get and to give. I want to tell people about the work I’m doing so that they might adopt some of the ideas for their own work. I also hope to learn what other people are doing in pursuit of sustainable development to see if there are any ideas that I might adopt in my own work.
Thank you to Ben Taylor for taking the time to do this interview.
Read previous Member of the Week interviews here.