Bill and Melinda Gates

Dear Bill and Melinda, It’s About The Fog That I Write To You

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Bridge in fog- hard to see the far bank
Bridge in fog- hard to see the far bank

Dear Bill and Melinda,

It’s about the fog that I write you you. Not the real fog, mind you, especially now that it is colder in the Northern Hemisphere. I know you are both busy, and need not be bothered by a trifling commentary about the weather.

Knowledge helps to lift the fog which prevents us from seeing clearly. I am particularly interested in knowledge based on the experience of others that will help improve child survival.

I applaud you both for your last two Annual Letters. The commentary and insights you provided about child survival is important. Would you please point us to five good books that might help us to know more about improving child survival?

I asked you for a recommendation of five good books in the video I recorded below in Glasgow on the Clyde River in late December last year just after I completed the eighth leg of an epic quest which I had called the 10 City Bridge Run. This involved running 10 sub-marathons each of 24 km in 10 cities across 10 countries as a stunt to open a conversation asking: “how might we use our networks to improve the delivery of child survival?”

This question of child survival will be addressed though a series of Design Forum, held in each of the cities where running took place. They begin today in Osaka, and conclude in Seoul in October. We will be exploring is question about child survival and doing what we can so that as a global community we achieve the bet you have made for the future. But we need your help.

Would you please list the five best books that have helped you both best understand child survival? We would love to read those books and also make sure others can too.

It would be great if you would join our journey by sharing with us your favourite list of five books that might help us understand child survival better. The best way to share these would be by Twitter through my address at @socialalchemy.

Thanks for your help!

Matt Jones, writing from Osaka

Betting On The Future

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imageBill and Melinda Gates just released their annual letter for 2015. It is framed around looking at the likelihood of massive progress across the next 15 years. The preamble to the letter begins:

“Fifteen years ago, Bill and Melinda made a similar bet. They started their foundation in 2000 with the idea that by backing innovative work in health and education, they could help dramatically reduce inequity. Progress so far has been very exciting—so exciting that they are doubling down on the bet made 15 years ago, and picking ambitious goals for what’s possible 15 years from now.”

I have yet to read through the full document, and here is a link so you can review it yourself.

While I was in Glasgow, I made a short video for Bill and Melinda Gates asking for their advice of five books that might be instructive to framing the issue about child survival. I have yet to hear back from them, and it remains a possibility that I won’t hear from them. They must get a zillion requests from everyone who wants something, and consequently have a fierce protection through some pretty robust gatekeepers.

Remember though that this pursuit of a series of Design Forum is neither hanging on whether we hear back from the Gates’. Of course, it would be great if that were the case to hear from them, and it remains my intent to keep pursuing their engagement on some level.

But just for a moment, let’s assume that for whatever reason we don’t get any response from Bill and Melinda. What should we do then? Well, we will have to find the answers we want through our own networks which is the point of this conversation.

Remaining hopeful of their advice about a handful of books to read, but being pragmatic of the likelihood of this, here is what I suggest: we take the framing of the Annual Letter for 2015 as guidance to help frame the Design Forum. What might be possible to achieve in the next 15 years. It is a 2030 vision.