failure

RECENT POSTS

Toms Founder Addresses Critics and Shows Path to Learning | 

Critics of TOMS shoes say the group’s solution of donating shoes to the poor for every pair it sells in the West does little to address the root causes of poverty. At its worst, this practice damages local businesses in poor countries. The online conversations by academics, bloggers (including myself) and NGO workers have continued for years with little response from TOMS.

Now founder Blake Mycoskie wants to talk about the criticisms. He addresses the issues head-on in a long article in Fast Company. Continue reading

UNICEF Gets a Little Bit Cooler and More Innovative | 

Erica Kochi and Christopher Fabian work together on mapping the future of innovation at UNICEF House, New York
Erica Kochi and Christopher Fabian work together on mapping the future of innovation at UNICEF House, New York
Susan Markisz

Celebrities often fill the pages of the annual TIME 100 list. The 2013 list fulfills that trend with the inclusion of Beyonce, Sheryl Sandberg, Jay Z, and Justin Timberlake. A more cynical article would gripe about placing musician Beyonce and skier Lindsey Vonn in the same ‘icon’ category as a woman who endured years of house arrest in an oppressive country (Aung San Suu Kyi) and a pair of women who survived assassination attempts (Malala Yousafzai and Gabby Giffords).

Heck, we here in Humanosphere are ones to do that more often than not. But I can’t help but remain fixated on the inclusion of two ‘pioneers’ from UNICEF, Chris Fabian and Erica Kochi. The two are the co-leaders of the innovation unit over at UNICEF. That’s right, one of the oldest development institutions has a group devoted to innovative solutions. Here is just a things the team is doing as summarized by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey for TIME:

More than half of the 6 million births each year in Nigeria are not recorded. Without a birth certificate, a child is much less likely to get educated, be vaccinated or receive health services. Two young UNICEF staffers — Erica Kochi and Christopher Fabian — moving fast within their 66-year-old organization, have made registering a birth as easy as sending a text. They’ve employed similar methods to prevent early deaths as well, creating systems to track the distribution of some 63 million insecticide-treated mosquito bed nets to stop the spread of malaria. Erica and Chris are using technology and accessible, intuitive interfaces to quickly transform the face of humanitarian aid and international development. The world will benefit from their continued efforts.

The most notable achievement by the pair is the open source technology tool RapidSMS. The tool uses cell phone text messages for collecting data that supports logistics coordination, database building and improved coordination. Its simple set up allows development organizations of any size to support their work through mobile phones. It is one of the more important developments in the realm of mHealth and it is no mistake that Kochi played a game of musical chairs at the 2012 edition of the mHealth Summit by shuffling from one panel to the next. Continue reading

Admitting Failure, excellent idea | 

Flickr, Alex E. Proimos

One of the hardest things for any organization working in development — or, well, anyone doing anything — is to readily acknowledge failure.

So some Canadian engineers want to make it easier.

For example, Dr. Margaret Chan, director-general of the World Health Organization, got media attention Monday for sort of acknowledging failure. Chan admitted the WHO is not performing well, but said this is because it is over-extended — “asked to do more and more” — and inadequately funded.

I’m not sure that’s so much an admission of failure as it is also a little bit of finger-pointing (since WHO depends upon donor funding to do its job). Continue reading