Gates Foundation Annual Letter – Tracking progress using data

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Bill Gates says in the Gates Foundation Annual Letter, let’s improve the health and living conditions of the world’s poorest people by running it like a business. Track the data. See where results happen and where they don’t. Then modify plans as needed. Gates uses polio vaccination as an example. By tracking and analyzing where vaccinations did or didn’t happen they can better insure that everyone gets one. He says ” I think a lot of efforts fail because they don’t focus on the right measure or they don’t invest enough in doing it accurately.”

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is actively trying to end polio, improve sanitation and health care in desperately poor areas, and much more. Their work is saving lives. They say every great fortune conceals a great crime but other than the occasional Blue Screen of Death, that doesn’t really apply to Gates. Seriously.

Skeptics point out that we have a hard time delivering new tools to the people who need them. This is where the innovation of using measurement is making a big difference. The process I have described-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. This innovation to reduce the delivery bottleneck is critical. Following the path of the steam engine long ago, progress isn’t “doomed to be rare and erratic.” We can, in fact, make it commonplace.