Donnerstag, 21. November 2013

Thinking outside the box: Rethinking the sustainable development processes with the example of the Lampedusa disaster

ITIL ®V3 (IT Service Management)
PRINCE2 ® (Projects in Controlled Environments)
Agile Management Innovations
Wirtschaftsinformatik - Diplom-Ingenieur
Informatikmanagement - Mag. rer. soc. oec
Wirtschaftsinformatik - Bakk.rer. soc. oec
Social Science - DEUG

We are not lacking of experiences. We are not lacking of expertise. We are not lacking of science management model.  Agile and waterfall model are rocking in sustainable development arena. We are not lacking of knowledge. We are not lacking of development management tools. Some issues we are facing are not new or even already well established. The lampedusa humanitarian crisis is an example among others. Together we can fix it.

Fig.1 Immigrants on boat

We all know that the only effective long-term solution to prevent a mass influx of migrants from unstable regions is to create jobs and improve living conditions in the countries of origin and transit. We can prevent natural catastrophes from becoming human tragedies but we could not avoid some Natural disasters etc....

We all know that local government should play the key role with the assistances of local and international development agencies to leave poorest of poor from the poverty.
We all know that no society can develop sustainable without access to the right economic, social, public and cultural infrastructures and the related knowledge management and transfer that affect and endorse the daily lives and activities of their citizens wherever they are living. We are awarding that corruption (materials and moral) cannot support the sustainable development efforts.

People are working hard on many fronts to progress the well-being of all. It moves. On the one hand progress has been made. On the other hand it is happening slowly. And sometimes it seems impossible. 

Therefore where are the causes of these  sustainable development challenges?  

For example, it is simple to conclude that it is the lack of the responsibility  of the local government from where  these immigrants are comming. The challenge is  if it is wrong away over there (poorest of poor people have trouble meeting basic needs) it will affect others parts of the world and societies. So we are all so concerned to fix the root causes. 

I think that we are dealing with a deeper problem related to local and external  Human factors and cultural influences effects in sustainable development arena. We are  underestimated the incorporation of local and external Human factors and cultural influences effects while designing implementing, and delivering development interventions.

We need business, cooperation, development intervention, management, politic, decision model that include  local and external human factors and cultural influences effects. We need to evaluate objectively development intervention in dealing  with internal and external  spiritual, moral, social, economic, environmental, political, cultural, and intellectual problems.

The Lampedusa disaster can be used as an opportunity to change for the better, as an opportunity for dealing with the root causes in lieu of treating the symptoms of development challenges.

Well, the first reasons of this continual disaster are: the immigrants are seeking for international protection or are looking for employment opportunities. Thus, the symptoms of this continual disaster are social conflicts and economic hardship. Yes, seeking for international protection and looking for employment opportunities are humane. Unfortunately we are facing an economic and social challenge (human factors and cultural influences effects). And we are  forgetting about the "Why" - (the root causes)  and dealing only  with the  "What" - (the symptoms) of this continual disaster.

To respond to this humanitarian crisis certain will suggest to enforce a common patrol of the coasts in order to deter future waves of immigrants, and others will suggest the development of a new integrated border management strategy and process. If so, we are treating only the symptoms and forgetting the root causes. These resolutions are not optimal. We need to tackle the root causes.

Fig. 2  Illustration of root of a tree

Sustainable development is complex. When we are facing challenges, how do we approach it? Do we jump in and start treating the symptoms? Or do we stop to consider whether there's actually a deeper problem that needs our attention?

The challenge is that if we only fix the symptoms, what we are seeing on the surface the problem will almost certainly happen again, which will lead us to fix it, again, and again, and again. The crisis of Lampedusa is an example.

If, instead, we look deeper to figure out why the problem is occurring, we can fix the underlying Human factors, cultural influences effects, systems and processes that are causing the problem.

Development intervention will fail without the incorporation of the appropriate Human factors (Spiritual Capital, Moral Capital, Aesthetic Capital Human Capital, Human Abilities, Human Potentials and sociocultural infrastructures),

Composition of the Human Factors
It is the aspect of the human personality that is usually in tune with the universal laws and principles of human life. It equips the individual to see beyond what the five senses are able to grasp and also furnishes him or her with deeper insights into the non-material world.
It represents habits and attitudes of the human heart that are based on universal principles regarding right or wrong. It refers to the qualities individuals possess that lead them to conform or not to conform to universal principles of life. Its constituents include integrity, humility, justice, charity, patience, honesty, sensitivity, fairness, etc.).
Aesthetic Capital
A deep sense of and love for beauty. It includes a strong passion for music, art, drama, dance and other artistic capacities (imagination and creativity are strong component
Human Capital
The know-how and acquired skills (i.e., technical, conceptual, intellectual, analytic and communications); human experiences, knowledge, intelligence, physical well-being, emotional health, etc.
Human Abilities
These constitute the power or capacity of an individual to competently undertake projects or effectively perform tasks requiring mental and physical effort. They are required for the effective use of human capital. Examples include wisdom, vision, commitment, determination, diligence, courage, accountability, judgment, responsibility, competence, motivation, human energy, optimism, endurance, self-control, objectivity, reliability, and so on.
Human Potentials
They are the human talents that may or may not be harnessed and employed for human utilization. These may be referred to as the yet undeveloped and unused dimensions of the H
Table 1 Human Factors. Source: Adjibolosoo, the Human Factor in Development.

 and Cultural influences (psychological and sociological, metaphysical, ideological, and authoritative) effects. Some parameters of Cultural influences can be found in the following table.

Cultural  influences
Psychological motives and practical concerns
Such as intellectual curiosity, and desires for self-esteem, respect from others, financial security, and power, can be intellectual alliances with colleagues and by seeking respect and rewards, status and power in the form of publications, grant money, employment, promotions, and honors.
Metaphysical worldviews
That form the foundation for some criteria used in conceptual evaluation, can be nonreligious, or based on religious principles that are theistic, nontheistic, or atheistic
Ideological principles
About "the way things should be" in society, socioeconomic structures, race relations, gender issues, social philosophies and customs, religions, morality, equality, freedom, and justice
Opinions of authorities
who are acknowledged due to expertise, personality, and/or power, a response to a dominant personality, and/or involvement in a power relationship
Social-institutional contexts
Psychology, practicality, metaphysics, ideology, authority
Table 2 Cultural influences parameters. Source: Craig Rusbult,  Cultural Influence in Science: Causes and Effects.

The term, Human factor, refers here to the spectrum of personality characteristics and other dimensions of human performance that enable social, economic and political institutions to function and remain functional over time. Such dimensions sustain the workings and application of the rule of law, political harmony, a disciplined labor force, just legal systems, respect for human dignity and the sanctity of life, social welfare, and so on (Adjibolosoo, 1993, p. 142).

As is often the case, no social, economic or political institutions can develop and function effectively without access to the right economic, social, public and cultural infrastructures and the related knowledge management and transfer that affect and endorse the daily lives and activities of their citizens wherever they are living.

For various reasons, the development interventions challenges ahead will require the Human factors, cultural influences effects and better collaborations processes. This demands new management perspective.

Since there is a huge natural, cultural, social diversity, a target intervention has to be defined locally, considering the particular needs of concerned people and institutions. This is the reasons why it is impossible to apply successfully development intervention worldwide.

The challenge is “The best Knowledge Management, learning and evaluation strategies in the UK are not necessarily the best Knowledge Management, learning and evaluation strategies in Uganda. Different groups and organizations (whether they are different due to political circumstances, economic resources, culture, social background or religion etc.) may have different associations in relation to concepts such as ‘leadership’, ‘cooperation’, ‘information’, ‘sharing’ and ‘monitoring” (Hovland 2003: 8).

 In deciding how best to meet the poorest needs for better life, the answers will depend crucially on how the question will be framed. We need to evaluate locally the human factors and the cultural influences effects. Makes clear that it is crucial to examine together these needs locally before making decisions, where choices made today could continue to affect target community for decades to come.

For some reason and challenges, we need to try to solve development challenges by attempting to identify deeply and correct the root causes of each challenge, as to simply addressing their symptoms.

Therefore we need an operative management perspective that seeks to identify the origin of the challenge and the same time fixes the requirements. A management perspective that uses a specific set of steps, with associated tools, to find the primary cause of the problem, so that we can:

  • Determine what is happening exactly there.
  • Determine why it is happening there.
  • Figure out what to do to eliminate/reduce the likelihood that it will happen again.
  • Fix the requirements.
  • Repeat

An operative management perspective to perform a comprehensive, system-wide review of development problems as well as the events and factors leading to them in sustainable development arena.

I think we do not need to look far from us. We do not need complex theories, practices and programs. We need to keep it very simple.  A creative management combination of waterfall and Agile model can create and award this kind of operative management perspective which can be promoted worldwide.

Agile development is an alternative to traditional project management where emphasis is placed on empowering people to collaborate and make team decisions in addition to continuous planning, continuous testing and continuous integration.

Principe s
waterfall model
1. Requirements specification resulting in the product requirements document
2. Design resulting in the Software architecture
3. Construction (implementation or coding) resulting in the actual software
4. Integration
5. Testing and debugging
6. Installation
7. Maintenance
The waterfall model maintains that one should move to a phase only when its preceding phase is completed and perfected. Various modified waterfall models (including Royce's final model), however, can include slight or major variations on this process.
Agile Manifesto
1. Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
2. Working software over comprehensive documentation
3. Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
4. Responding to change over following a plan
Customer satisfaction by rapid delivery of useful software
Welcome changing requirements, even late in development
Working software is delivered frequently (weeks rather than months)
Working software is the principal measure of progress
Sustainable development, able to maintain a constant pace
Close, daily cooperation between business people and developers
Face-to-face conversation is the best form of communication (co-location)
Projects are built around motivated individuals, who should be trusted
Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design
Simplicity—the art of maximizing the amount of work not done—is essential
Self-organizing teams
Regular adaptation to changing circumstances
Table 3 Agile & Waterfall model

Sustainable development arena is  complex. For some reason and from a management perspective, a well combination of waterfall and Agile model can help to manage with success complicated and complex development challenges. The exploration of Human factor and cultural influences effects are well incorporated in Agile. Waterfall model is well known for fixing the requirements.

                             Fig1. An Operative Management perspective that addresses the root causes of a problem, figures the requirements out, then fixes the requirements and repeats.

Agile determines  in this process why it is happening (human factors, cultural influences effects, root cause) through collaboration. What it is happening figures out the requirements (symptoms). Waterfall fixes the requirements – and repeats. Each transformation must be evaluated and managed  on the site with the collaboration with the target community.

So let’s apply in the following table these knowledge and create a flexible model of an operative management perspective which can be promoted worldwide.

Addresses the root causes through the collaboration with the target community. Continuous improvement through  looking at the same situation from different perspectives: the Target community, the people (Actors) who implement the solutions, the Transformation process that's affected, the World view, the process Owner, and local, cultural, political, social environmental constraints.
Assumes that People, Systems, Human factors and events are interrelate and stay in the middle of sustainable development arena
Supports the assumption that "vérité en deçà des Pyrénées, erreur au-delà" de Pascal.
Seeking to identify  first the origin of the problem
Listing and understanding the target community
Determine what happened over there.
Determine why it happened over there.
Why does the causal factor exist?
What is the real reason the problem occurred?
Figure out what to do to reduce the likelihood that it will happen again.
What can we do to prevent the problem from happening again?
What sequence of events leads to the problem?
What conditions allow the problem to occur?
What other problems surround the occurrence of the central problem?
Collaborate with the target community to find the roots causes.
Support continuous improvement through on-going feedbacks of the target community to address the root causes:
Physical and soft causes – basic intangible, tangible, material items failed in some way in the target community (for example, the lack of sociocultural infrastructures).
Human causes and factors – People did something wrong, or did not do something that was needed. Human causes and factors cause typically lead to physical causes (for example, no one person wanted knows right why these immigrants are sacrificed their life at Lampedusa in the hope to reach and to have a better life in Europe).
Organizational causes – A system, model, process, or policy that people use to make decisions or do their work is faulty (for example, no one person was responsible for addressing the right root causes of this immigration. Immigrants countries must assume their responsibility).
Waterfall model
Collaboration with implementers to addresses the symptoms through data collection and analyse. Exploration the situation with the following questions:
What do you see happening?
What are the specific symptoms?
What proof do you have that the problem exists?
How long has the problem existed?
What is the impact of the problem?
Assumes that process and events ( machines processes, management)  are interrelate and stay in the middle of sustainable development arena that lead to rigid plan
Fix Only the symptoms (requirements) through processes analyse.
How will the solution be implemented?
Who will be responsible for it?
What are the risks of implementing the solution?
Agile vice versa. Waterfall
Addresses  first the root through the collaboration with the target, and then fix the causes
Agile and waterfall collaborate together to underlines these Facts:
Ask "So why?" to determine the root problem.
Ask "So what?" to determine all the possible consequences of the  fact.
Seek cause and effect to determine where the trouble may have begun.
Break down the problem into small, detailed parts to better understand the big picture and for continuous improvement.
Seeking to identify first the origin of a problem and fixing it. Assumes we need to analyse the situation fully before moving on to look at factors that contributed to the problem.
Maximizing the effectiveness of the root cause analysis, get together everyone – experts and front line staff – who understands the situation.
Including people and human factors who are most familiar with the problem may help lead to a better understanding of the issues.
Human factors, events, systems and processes must collaborate together in sustainable development arena.
Key points:
Continuous improvement
Continual small changes
People and Human factor closest to a process
Identify quickly places for improvement

 Table 4 The description of the operative management perspective processes 


Neither Agile nor waterfall model itself can solve our sustainable developments challenges. But both Agile and Waterfall could be used in some complex cases and to achieve better results and synergy effect and find better solution. Sustainable developments thematic are human consciousness (The why, what and how)  thematic. It is the degree of the feeling, the quality and the state of individual of being aware of sustainable development issues and how to deal individual and in a group with these issues for a common goal, the well-being of all members of our society. The science of technology alone could not solve all our sustainable developments challenges.

We absolutely need to incorporate local and external Human factors and cultural influences effects while designing, implementing and delivering development intervention on a target site..


Sutharshan, A. (2013). Human factors and cultural influences in implementing agile philosophy and agility in global software development. Retrieved from

Mind tools,

Agility in global software development. Retrieved from


Adjibolosoo, "The Human Factor in Development." The Scandinavian Journal of Development Alternatives, XII (4): 139-149.

Cultural-Personal Factors in Science by Craig Rusbult, Ph.D.,


*Author, Amouzou Bedi - Business Application Management - Operations&Infrastructures by KPMG Austria - Expertise and knowledge of the science management and its cultural implications in the developed and developing world in particular), contact on LinkedIn. I will try to update this paper on a regular basis if a need arises. Many thanks for taking your time to read this paper, and for sharing this with the others.