Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Brainstorming Solutions

Last Thursday evening in the heart of London's financial district, a few folk stayed late after work to join us in a session trying to solve the challenge of figuring out how register and verify ±30,000 recipients within 7 days after a disaster in a way that is cost-effective (under £2/profile).  A big challenge.

The idea was to bring together people with no humanitarian aid experience with a couple of us with humanitarian experience and see if we could learn together.  Often we get trapped in our way of thinking and find it difficult to step outside of ourselves and see things differently.  All of us have a starting point for how we think, so the idea was that if we interact with people who have different starting points, perhaps we can find new solutions to problems we have.

So that's how we ended up in the depths of old building in London part of an even older organisation.  It was a far cry from a disaster zone, but it was still a humbling experience to interact with people from a completely different way of life.

So did we solve the problem?  No, not entirely, but we took some steps closer to the solutions.  Ideas like:

  • Can we pre-register recipients in areas where we know disasters happen regularly (ie. Bangladesh)?
  • Can we work with local leaders and government officials who have access to census information or register citizens for other projects?
  • Can local representatives be identified to be responsible for the registration.
  • Is there a way to register recipients over SMS?
Of course there were lots of concerns and additional challenges raised, which also brings enormous value.

So while no magic bullet was found, the mere act of engaging in conversation was incredibly valuable. It was good to be in front of others again, sharing the idea and piecing together solutions.  As the old saying goes, Rome wasn't built in a day and neither will Give Aid Direct, but last Thursday we laid a few more bricks. 

To those of you who were present on Thursday - thank you.  To those of you who were not - keep talking with us.

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