Most development approaches emphasize the importance of carefully understanding of the problem before beginning planning and implementation. A typical sequence is:

  • Conduct a diagnostic to understand the problem deeply
  • Develop recommendations
  • Plan implementation
  • Implement the plan
  • Conduct a review or third-party evaluation


Delivery focuses instead on quickly discovering what works and trying to spread it through the system. This involves four additional methods.

1. Success

Search for examples of where the system is already working (for instance, the best schools or the best districts). Sometimes these examples might come from outside the system (for instance other sectors, or the private sector). The team works to understand what works and spread good practice to other areas.

2. Discovery

The delivery team quickly generates hypotheses about what might works and then begins trying things. This is how most people approach broken technology – they just start trying things (hit it, turn it off and turn it back on again, etc.).

3. Experimental

The team launches a set of pilots or experiments to discover what works. The most successful approaches are scaled up through the system.

4. Systemic

The team puts in place conditions which allow solutions to emerge within the system (for instance setting targets, changing incentives, or loosening regulations). The system the looks for emerging solutions and works to spread learning about what works.

Regardless of approach, the objective is to quickly gain insight into what works. The team should always consider all of the possible sources of insight.