The ‘science of delivery’ and ColaLife

Child drinking ORS from Kit Yamoyo (square)





The current President of the World Bank Group, Jim Kim, has made what he calls ‘The Science of Delivery’ a theme of his tenure.

I was made aware of this by a ColaLife supporter pointing me to this blog post by Kevin Watkins on the ODI’s website: Jim Kim’s ‘science of delivery’: what role for politics?

In one of his first speeches Jim Kim talked about failures in delivery in the context of development:

… most failures happen at delivery. When a government passes a strong anti-corruption law but little changes in actual practice: that’s a delivery failure. Or when a country invests heavily in primary education but still can’t get all its children in school, or ensure that they’re learning: that’s a delivery failure, too.

He went on to say:

Effective delivery demands context-specific knowledge. It requires constant adjustments, a willingness to take smart risks, and a relentless focus on the details of implementation.

In his address to the 10th anniversary Skoll Forum he said:

In the private sector, competition eliminates firms that fail to execute. For successful companies, a deep understanding of delivery is essential because it affects their bottom line. Many of us working in development have envied Unilever’s ability to deliver its personal-care products reliably to the remotest African villages—where essential medicines and schoolbooks are often missing from the shelves.

This brings me on to the point I wanted to make. People see ColaLife as delivering essential medicines to remote places using the same techniques as the Unilevers and Coca-Colas of this world, but there is more to delivery than moving a product from one place to another, especially when we are talking about a medicine. In our case, the ORS within our Kit Yamoyo cannot be considered to be delivered until it has been mixed correctly using safe water and consumed by a sick child.

Through a process of designing with the poor we have come up with a system that not only gets our Kit Yamoyo anti-diarrhoea kit to remote places BUT ALSO helps to ensure its correct use.

The key phrase for us in Jim Kim’s focus on the ‘science of delivery’ is the relentless focus on the details of implementation.