bill and Melinda gates
In their Annual Letter published this year, Bill and Melinda Gates set the scene by betting that there would be greater progress to end extreme poverty than in the previous 15 years. And they are probably right. All indications point toward this as an outcome, and their keen interest over the last 15 years would suggest that this is actually a well-tested assumption rather than an idle wager.
Progress is good, and the message from Bill and Melinda Gates is positive. Are we out of the woods yet? Does that mean the crisis is over?
The 2014 Bill and Melinda Gates Annual Letter framed the issue of child mortality as one of three key areas where they sought to dispel myths that they rightly claim are held about addressing global poverty. At the beginning of the document, they wrote how they were “disgusted” by child mortality.
Other people have used equally strong language. Tony Lake the Executive Director of UNICEF described child mortality in 2012 as a “moral obscenity” and a “moral abomination”.
What does this mean for the 10 City Bridge Run, a citizen-led initiative to open a conversation asking “how might we use our networks to improve the delivery of child survival?” Is the war over, and we didn’t hear the news? Isn’t it all over bar the shouting? After all, Bill and Melinda Gates have spoken.
We should see the current situation as the end of a beginning, and the beginning of the end. We are now riding the waves of change. There has never been a more critical time to convene the Design Forum which will unfold this conversation about child survival than now. There is political will, institutional interest, a wealth of information, technology and the ability to communicate is better than ever, and along with increasing developments in medicine and infrastructure.
The Design Forum is not a silver bullet. And in a relative sense, together we are a minnow in an ocean of information and activity. But we are part of a much larger connected effort. And that is why this is important as a conversation. We have a real part to play, and as that conversation takes shape, it will become more obvious where we can best effect change.
The Design Forum which will commence in Osaka on 9 February is a blueprint for change for improving child survival. We are not reinventing the wheel, but drawing upon the experience and networks of others to amplify our intention. And we need your voice to help make that possible.
The Dali Lama has a quote which I like:
“If you think you are too small to make a difference, then try sleeping with a mosquito.”
We are about to begin the series of Design Forum. You can join in at any time, but why not begin with us at the beginning. We are starting by asking how might we Design the Design Forum. This will be an event in Osaka to draw upon best practice, and examine how we can organise to be effective in making a difference. The first Design Firum in Osaka convenes concurrently with an Acumen Fund/IDEO free online, seven-week course which provides an introduction to Design Thinking. You can get involved. You will make a difference. So why not sign up? It is all free.
Sign up for the Introduction to Design Thinking here.
Sign up for the Osaka Design Forum here.
Looking forward to seeing you on the journey!
“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.