The unglamorous work of doing good (2)

I recently delivered some food parcels to families in our area. This was “helping those who have less” in one of its clearer and more concrete forms. I was happy to do it, but it didn’t feel that great: I loaded up my car, delivered the packages to some people who said thanks, and then drove home. It didn’t feel…

The unglamorous work of doing good (1)

The side of the tracks Among the most rewarding pieces of “good” that I’ve ever done was to start a micro-savings group for a small community of men and women who lived along a railway line in West Jakarta. It was hard: hot, dusty, dirty and smelly from the rubbish that they recycled for a living, always smokey from cigarettes…

Deep literacy: what it takes

Put aside AI and machine learning for a minute, and ask instead: “What does it take to equip a human to be self-teaching?” As a starting point – how many lines of code does it take to make a child who can read with fluency and ease and with critical understanding, and who loves reading, and is motivated to read and…

Bootstrapping the non-profit organisation Rule 4: Resist the urge to do average work for average people

This is the fourth post in a series applying Seth Godin’s rules of bootstrapping (see also here) to building a non-profit organisation. Be a “meaningful specific” rather than a “wandering generality” – it’s the principle of concentration of force and energy to get work done. Rule 4 ties into Rules 1 and 3 – “real work for real clients” who are “eager to pay” –…

Bootstrapping the non-profit organisation Rule 3: Serve Clients Eager to Pay for what you do (part 2 of 4)

This is the third-and-a-half in a series applying Seth Godin’s rules of bootstrapping (see also here) to building a non-profit organisation. Rule 3: Serve Clients Eager to Pay for what you do (part 2) In a nutshell, Seth says that if someone isn’t eager to pay, they’re not your client. You get to pick. So work for people eager to pay. Eager to pay and scaling the…

A crappy bridge

I didn’t manage to photograph the bridge, but I’ll post one of a similar bridge next time I see one. It was a pretty sorry affair over a murky stream, just wide enough for a motorbike. Bamboo slats, no siderails, a strangely drooping curve. Crappy infrastructure. But here’s the thing: that bridge is an act of will. It’s there because…

Time Travel (2)

The Future is here, it’s just not very evenly distributed. William Gibson There’s a second way to look at this. If looking at other places can help us see the future, it can also help us see the past. One of the things I love about Jakarta is that sometimes it feels like living in Blade Runner (shiny buildings, giant…

What can I do to make your job easier?

I ask each member of my team this question at the end of the ‘Any Other Business’ part of our meeting. I used to think of it as a management question: what can I do – or stop doing – that will make you better at your job? And it’s a great management question. It’s also a really helpful question…

Time Travel (1)

The Future is here, it’s just not very evenly distributed. William Gibson There are ways in which we can all see the future, And ways we can learn to see possibilities and bring them into being. One way of seeing the future is to look at those ‘unevenly distributed’ pockets where it’s already arrived. What new technologies – in the broad…