The Measurement of Hope

The lives of the world’s poorest people have improved more rapidly in the last 15 years than ever before, and could improve even more in the next 15 years. The key is innovation in the measurement of governmental and philanthropic performance – setting clear goals, picking the right approach, and then measuring the results.

SEATTLE – The lives of the world’s poorest people have improved more rapidly in the last 15 years than ever before, yet I am optimistic that we will do even better in the next 15 years. After all, human knowledge is increasing. We can see this concretely in the development and declining costs of new medicines like HIV drugs, and in the creation of new seeds that allow poor farmers to be more productive. Once such tools are invented, they are never un-invented – they just improve.

Skeptics point out that we have a hard time delivering new tools to the people who need them. This is where innovation in the measurement of governmental and philanthropic performance is making a big difference. That process – setting clear goals, picking the right approach, and then measuring results to get feedback and refine the approach continually –helps us to deliver tools and services to everybody who will benefit.

Innovation to reduce the delivery bottleneck is critical. Following the path of the steam engine long ago, progress is not “doomed to be rare and erratic.” We can, in fact, make it commonplace.

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