Rob Katz

Guest Post: Learning Humility at the BoP Learning Lab

Jocelyn WyattGuest blogger Jocelyn Wyatt leads IDEO’s base of the pyramid design efforts. Before joining IDEO, Jocelyn was a member of the inaugural class of Acumen Fund Fellows. As a Fellow, Jocelyn worked for Advanced Bio-Extracts (ABE), a leading manufacturer and cultivator of artemisinin, a key ingredient in the most effective treatment against malaria. She holds a MBA from the Thunderbird School of Global Management.

By Jocelyn WyattRecently I participated in the Base of the Pyramid Learning Lab at Cornell University. The Learning Lab, chaired by Stu Hart, brings together companies and non-profits interested in working at the Base of the Pyramid. Attendees included IBM, SC Johnson, dob Foundation, Sesame Street, Oxfam, and IDEO.

Stu and the team at Cornell are thinking about co-creation and BoP 2.0. I agree with this approach of encouraging companies to work closely with local communities to design new technologies and new business models to support them. Let’s not take our existing technologies and try to make them fit someplace else. Let’s start with identifying wants and needs and then work together to make something that’s good for everyone.

Stu mentioned the need to “approach this work with humility.” I couldn?t agree with that more and believe we need to stop thinking of ourselves as experts ready to deliver solutions to the poor. We need to learn how to listen better and move to a place of believing we have something to learn from people living in the slums of Nairobi or the villages in Andhra Pradesh.