Gates: My Plan To Fix the World’s Biggest Problems** Measure Them! This is the headline of the lead article in
the Review section of the weekend edition of the Wall Street Journal written
by Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and
co-founder of Microsoft. The article was accompanied by a large
picture of transparent globe wrapped by a tape measure covering most of the
first page of the section. Its message
is the theme of Made2Measure. Because
it comes from Bill Gates, we tend to listen.
“In the past year,” Gates writes, “I have been struck by how
important measurement is to improving the human condition. You can achieve
incredible progress if you set a clear goal and find a measure that will drive
progress toward that goal .. .This may seem basic, but it is amazing how often
it is not done and how hard it is to get right.” He writes specifically about
foreign aid among other areas like education, health care and agriculture . “Historically, foreign aid has been measured
in terms of the total amount of money invested—and during the Cold War, by
whether a country stayed on our side—but not by how well it performed in
actually helping people.” When a country
does commit to measuring outcomes toward concrete goals and clear performance
targets, like Ethiopia did to bring health care to all of its citizens in 2004,
it attracts donor money.
Gates believes that one of the greatest benefits of
measurement is the ability it gives government leaders to compare their
countries’ performances with that of other countries and learn from the best.
Gates concludes his article with this: “The process I have
described – setting clear goals, choosing an approach, measuring results, and
then using those measurements to continually refine our approach – helps us to
deliver the tools and services to everybody who will benefit, be they students
in the U.S. or mothers in Africa.”
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