Measurement: Bill Gates’ Plan to Fix the World’s Problems

Bill 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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