Not all things are transferable, and Ned in his post refers to a Foreign Policy article and weighs in himself on what ideas or principles from the tech world can benefit the development space. Ned very eloquently points out an important takeaway:
Being able to acknowledge failures (and capitalize on learnings from successes) to very quickly and transparently pivot and improve an approach is a critical to long-term success -- and this comes straight out of the tech world's playbook. It's also an idea that can help the development world.
The development space is systemically risk-averse. Trying something new and risking failure the first time around is not often encouraged. No one wants to flush away hard-earned and carefully-monitored funds from institutional donors. These donors are often bureaucratic and have tight controls precisely to prevent this type of "waste."
As I write about here, there are many reasons why we should welcome more entrepreneurial efforts at solving tough development challenges. One of these is the desire and willingness to innovate -- to try new things and be willing to fail -- and sometimes fail big -- in order to possibly win big.
"Failing fast" and "pivoting" are important parts of the tech world. Programs such as USAID's Development Innovation Ventures (DIV) are good steps in the right direction: small sums of money spent on risky new ideas that can may lead to breakthrough ideas. But it's not enough.
I applaud initiatives such as Bridge International Academies who have taken very innovative, and "risky" approaches so solve tough problems, often utilizing technology, but not relying on it as a silver bullet.
My takeaway from Ned's article: failing is a necessary part of getting to a better place -- as long as we are willing to openly acknowledge our failures, stay true to the core mission and convictions, and find a better way.
Post by Jim Chu, CEO of dloHaiti