Lesson Eight. Keep moving forward

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IMG_1388Three cities remain following Seoul in this running stunt. Each of those cities are critical in threading together the intellectual engagement of this question: ‘how might we use our networks to improve the delivery of child survival?’ Glasgow, Toronto and New York are all critical cities renowned globally for their thinking.

For the time being, it would seem that those three cities are immediately out of reach. The sensible thing would be to postpone the journey until it is financially viable and less of a personal risk to myself.

Ought we to play it safe and accept what is reasonable? George Bernard Shaw would advise otherwise: “The reasonable man adapts himself to the conditions that surround him… The unreasonable man adapts surrounding conditions to himself… All progress depends on the unreasonable man.”

This image of a human bridge which inspires the photo-essay in the book ‘Life Bridge’ is in part inspired by words adapted from the legendary Korean marathon world champion Son Ki-chung who broke the world-record in 1935 and won the 1936 Berlin Olympic Marathon: “The human bridge makes incredible things possible when supported by strong commitment and passion

Holding the remaining three cities in abeyance until 2015 is an option, and still allows for forward movement. But perhaps our frustration with an incomplete journey ought to inspire us to push harder to make incredible things possible now. Completing the running stunt directly from Seoul is an outcome that is not possible within my current resources, but achieving it would give an inspiring context to the Design Forum in the knowledge of a completed running stunt that the seemingly impossible is possible. This is why I am appealing for help from a select group of ‘bridge builders’.

The proposed schedule for the Design Forum would engage with a broad community of partners and stakeholders for participation proposed as follows:

Proposed Schedule for Design Forum
Theme Location Date (2015)
Framing the problem: Focus on Papua New Guinea Osaka February (middle)
Port Moresby February (late)
Global context, ideation and opportunity Glasgow, London and Oxford April
Toronto May
New York May
Evaluating prototypes Sydney June
New Delhi July
Implementation, delivery and moving forward Johannesburg August
Nairobi August
Singapore September
China (TBC) October
Seoul October

The importance of ‘bridge builders’ to support this initiative immediately is that it enables preparation of this schedule with confidence.

Lesson Seven. We underestimate the influence of our encouragement

Lesson Nine. Expressing a silent tribute

Read all Nine Lessons here in a complete PDF attachment


Lesson Seven. We underestimate the influence of our encouragement

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IMG_1687Crowdfunding might at first appear to be an exercise in raising money, but it has far greater utility to shape a conversation, test an idea, raise awareness, and build networks.

The willingness of people to support something that is risky and uncertain shows a real spirit of generosity. Without this support, together we could not have reached this point that has enabled us to look ahead to the journey that follows.

Every dollar raised has had a meaningful impact on this initiative. 137 supporters since 2010 have together contributed less than $12,000. This has been critical to develop this idea and commence the journey to this point. Every supporter deserves an individual special note of thanks here for making this possible.

More often than not, we underestimate the influence of our encouragement. Even seemingly insignificant actions such as ‘liking’ a post on Facebook, offering advice, or just checking in with a friendly word of encouragement, are all actions that have a big impact.

This might seem trivial, but it is not. More importantly. it shows that small interventions might be among those actions that are most important which we can do through our networks to improve the delivery of child survival. What are those interventions? The Design Forum will seek to identify those meaningful interventions that can lead to lasting impact.

Please, never underestimate the power of your encouragement. For everyone who played their role to date, thank you very much. Your support has had a huge impact on me personally, and together enabled us to weave this epic journey.

Lesson Six. Take the pressure off and change the conversation

Lesson Eight. Keep moving forward

Lesson Four. Lead by example by learning

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IMG_0378Leading by example is not limited to being the tough guy that gets out in front. Feedback from others has shown me that stepping out into uncertainty and beginning this journey has provided inspiration for many.

This stunt is not really about achieving impressive physical feats through running long distances. Learning to embrace vulnerability by confronting fear, uncertainty, risk, failure are the things that inspire others.

This learning is important is because it emphasises the need to embrace a ‘beginners mind’ through a ‘Human Centered Design’ thinking process which will be required during the Design Forum to be open to new possibilities in asking ‘how might we use our networks to improve the delivery of child survival?’

Learning and innovation require us to make mistakes and sometimes to fail. It is ok to fall short, as long as we are trying with the conviction to keep moving forward. Learning how to try something new is the type of leading by example that is needed for this conversation, if we are to improve the delivery of child survival.

Nine Lessons From An Epic Journey

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Departing for Singapore
Departing for Singapore

We have come a long way.

Starting in Port Moresby on 16 September 2014, coinciding with Papua New Guinea’s Independence Day, was important. Papua New Guinea is a country that is unlikely to meet all Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) before the end of 2015. The troubling progress experienced by Papua New Guinea in reducing child mortality made it an appropriate place to start this journey called the 10 City Bridge Run where we seek to open a conversation asking: “how might we use our networks to improve the delivery of child survival?”

The 10 City Bridge Run is a citizen-led initiative conceived in 2010, which has taken until now to commence. It was framed within the context of the MDGs which seek to reduce global poverty from 1990 levels by two-thirds before 2015. MDG4 is to reduce child mortality.

IMG_0906In 2010, aid agencies pointed to the appalling rate of child mortality per day, measured then using 2008 data, estimated as 24,000 children under the age of five dying every single day. I chose to run ten sub-marathons each of 24km in 10 cities across 10 countries as a stunt to open this conversation about child survival.

There are three basic elements to this initiative: (1) A running stunt involving 10 sub-marathons each of 24 km in 10 cities across 10 countries, (2) Publication of a book titled ‘Life Bridge’ featuring an inspiring photo-essay on the theme of ‘human bridges’ to illustrate the importance of our connections, and (3) Perhaps most importantly, a series of Design Forum to be held during 2015 where the conversation to ask the question: ‘how might we use our networks to improve the delivery of child survival?’ will be opened to shape impact.

IMG_1015After running in Port Moresby, the journey traveled through Sydney, Singapore, Osaka, New Delhi and most recently the Chinese coastal city of Shanhaigeun. I’m writing this reflection from Seoul ahead of the seventh leg of the 10 City Bridge Run.

At the end of a last week, a crowdfunding campaign to sustain this journey ended, falling significantly short of the target. Even in light of this setback, I consider progress to date has been successful.

The following nine lessons learnt explain why I believe our progress has been successful to date, and what this means for the next steps in this journey to improve the delivery of child survival.

Here is the list of the Nine Lessons which will be discussed in the posts that follow (hyperlinks to be added once all posted):

Seth’s response

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a goo cheif
A Goo Cheif

I subscribe to Seth Godin‘s blog. Daily, Seth posts a few small words encasing a big idea to think about.

I emailed Seth a few days ago about a question I had in relation to what he had written, and his response gave me more food for thought.

My question was about leadership. His answer basically encouraged me to keep going in the same direction. My reflection on Saturday was:

Leadership presents both opportunity and responsibility. Often the temptation is to first find validation or comfort through following others.  Leadership in fact involves rising above this temptation and, through your actions, writing the narrative for those who follow.

The work required to eradicate extreme poverty involves some of this pioneering leadership, a lot of innovation and many to follow making good with what appears to work. Not everyone needs to lead, but not everyone should follow either.

What role are you playing? Leader? Innovator? Follower? Bystander? All of the above?