Thursday, January 24, 2013

Feedback Loops for Aid?

My dishwasher died over the holidays.

The first thing I did was go to Consumer Reports to find out what their experts considered the best bet for a replacement.  I was on the verge of ordering one of their top-ranked models when I decided to click on the “User Reviews” tab.  I was shocked to see that the model was ranked only 2.5 out of 5 stars by actual users.  Consumers had a wide range of complaints, describing how hard it was to load and the length of the wash cycle, and others complained the thing broke down too often.  So I kept going down the list of recommended models until I found one that the experts liked and the users loved, and then I went online and ordered it.  It was simple, and it took less than an hour.

What if governments – and even regular citizens – had a similar tool to use in development projects?  Or better yet – why don’t they?   Read more...

[Cross-posted from my blog at the Center for Global Development.]

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Saturday, January 12, 2013

100 Days of Gratitude - Day 34: GlobalGiving Gang

[Cross-posted from the GlobalGiving Blog]
The other day a friend asked me to look back at my professional career and tell her what I was most proud of.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“Well, you did all those multi-hundred million dollar projects at the World Bank in the 1980s and 1990s.  And then you were instrumental in creating the original Innovation and Development Marketplaces there.
“And now GlobalGiving has helped over 7,000 projects around the globe get $100+ million in funding from 300,000 donors and some of the most innovative companies in the world.  Plus, GlobalGiving is one of the few online giving platforms that has attained financial self-sustainability.  So which of those things are you most proud of?” she asked.
I paused, but only briefly.
“What I am most proud of is the team that we have built.  Every time I walk in the office I have an almost overwhelming sense of pride in the people there.  If you come visit some day, you will feel a hum in the large, wide-open space. People will be concentrating intensely, but periodically the room will be punctuated by laughter or by a bang on the office gong, signaling some milestone or breakthrough.
“If you keep watching, you will see that someone has hit a road block or has a question, and he will walk over to a colleague’s desk to ask for help.  The two of them will confer quietly. Someone else will look up from their work and come over to join the conversation. If you get closer, you will hear that the task at hand involves something that most teams would consider impossible.  And yet the problem gets solved, and the impossible is achieved – if not the same day, then the next day, or in any case soon.
“In the area where we have our weekly all-hands meetings, you will see what some team members have inscribed in big letters high on the wall:
“Those are not just words – they really are the tenets that guide our actions and decisions day in and day out.
“They are the values that explain why the team can do exceptional things when others are stymied.
“They are the principles that explain why forty people can run and continually improve a platform that supports thousands of heroic project leaders and hundreds of thousands of donors in over one hundred countries.
“They are the reason why you ain’t seen nothing yet.  GlobalGiving has achieved a lot in its first ten years.  But just wait until you see what GlobalGiving does in the next decade.”
That’s what I told my friend.
Good ideas are a dime a dozen. Well-executed ideas are rare, and there is no team that can execute like the gang at GlobalGiving.  My deepest appreciation goes to everyone who has been on our team since we first opened our doors ten years ago. Thank you all for making me so proud.

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