MODERATOR: President Jim Kim, thank you for hosting this forum today.
DR. KIM: Thank you. Thank you for doing [unclear 0:00:06].
MODERATOR: What a pleaser to have with us former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, who has been such a pioneer in this area.
And Michael Barber, who wrote the book, literally, Deliverology 101. He's the former head of the PMDU, the Prime Minister's Delivery Unit in the UK.
Today, Tony Blair will tell us why he instituted this reform effort in his government.
Michael Barber will talk about some of the challenges he faced in implementing it. We will ask him about the keys to making it work and some of the risks, and what are the lessons that they learned.
And we're also going to take some questions from the audience. There were cards on your seats when you came in. If you have a question, please feel free to fill it out and in just a bit, someone will come around and collect questions.
We also solicited questions online and we got dozens of questions submitted from around the world, from Switzerland and Ghana, Hungary, India, the United Kingdom, and elsewhere. I'll ask a few of those.
The World Bank is sponsoring this discussion because of a strong recognition in these halls that improving delivery is crucial for enhancing development results. This recognition is driven by growing demand from the countries with whom the Bank partners.
Governments around the world increasingly are focused on improving the delivery of key public services like health and education and transportation as a way to achieve development goals.
Jim Kim, I know this has been a priority for you. You call it the "science of delivery." What does that mean?
DR. KIM: Well, it's related to two things, especially for me here at the World Bank in the last nine or ten months that I've been President.
The first is I've been doing--as many of you here in the building know, I've been doing development for most of my adult life, and what we saw over time was a lot of good intentions, a lot of efforts to do the right thing without really a lot of tangible results on the ground, and it resulted in books that were questioning the whole endeavor. "Why should we even put money into development? Nothing really happens. You might as well just take the money and drop it from an airplane, it would have just as much impact."
People were fundamentally calling into question the development enterprise. And in my own experience of 25 years of working in this field, what I found was that, at the end of the day, what people living in poverty, what marginalized people, what women who were kept out of job prospects, women who don't have their rights, what they want at the end of the day is not expressions of generosity or expressions of commitment. They want things to actually happen on the ground.
And so, I've been obsessed with this notion of how do you get programs in the developing world to be more effective.
And then, the other thing that really impacted this notion that we actually could develop a science of delivery here is meeting World Bank employees. I walked the halls. I visited every single Vice Presidential Unit here in the Headquarters and I visited staff in the countries, and what I found was that we have people who have fantastic educational backgrounds who are completely committed to delivery, to getting the results on the ground. So, we have a very nice confluence--we have a time where we have to make a case for organizations like ours and we have people who actually can develop the science.
I call it a science; it's aspirational. It's not a science yet but we've got to focus on letting the results on the ground drive our work in a way that's different from the past.
MODERATOR: Tony Blair, you started an initiative as Prime Minister, aimed at this very goal. What was the origin of that idea?
PRIME MINISTER BLAIR: First of all, can I thank President Kim for giving us this opportunity to come to the World Bank and talk to you all. It is a fabulous international institution. I've worked with many of your people on the ground in different countries and I have the highest regard for the work that you do.
And I think President Kim's focus on delivery is absolutely right, and this is the right moment to have that focus.
And let me explain to you how I came to try and do this in the UK, because one of the problems in being a political leader is that the skills that take you to office where you persuade people or manage to come to the position of power, those are one set of skills, but here's the funny thing, that when you actually get there, those skills are not that much use, right? You need a different skillset, right? You need to switch from being the persuader to being the CEO, and that's what's really tough, and I found it really tough.
And about two years into the time I was in the UK, I remember having a meeting with some of my senior civil servants, and I had--I'd been butting my head against a brick wall because I had been trying to delivery this change and nothing was happening.
And I had this luncheon. I explained my anxieties to them, and I remember one of the senior civil servants around the lunch table finally said, "So, let me try and work this out." He said, "What you're really saying is that you want us to deliver results."
And I said, "What have you been doing up to now?"
And he said, "No, no, no, that's not--the traditional British civil service has never been about delivering results, it's been about giving you advice." And really, the whole concept of delivery grew out of that.
And so, it grew out of actually a mistake that I made, which is that, in the first few years, I thought if I just bashed the system hard enough, the change happened. In my second term, thanks to Michael, from whom you'll hear in a minute, we then set up a whole new of working at the center of government, which did this: We ruthlessly prioritized, right? We knew we couldn't do everything but we were going to do certain key things.
Secondly, we worked out a plan in order to do them.
Thirdly, we got the people who got it and were capable of implementing it.
And fourthly, we tracked and monitored the implementation, and I was personally involved in that, and that brought about a huge change at the center of government.
Remember, we didn't do everything, but my God, those things we were saying we were going to do we did and we got done.
And finally, here's the great opportunity for you here at the World Bank and the governments that you work with: What I find around the world today in the developing world is there's a new generation of people on the move. There's new leaders in politics, in business, in society, and they don't want an ideological lesson; they want to deliver change for their country, right? And the thing that matters to them is seeing the lives of their people improve.
So, you've got, if you like, a perfect confluence of the science of delivery being recognized by institutions and governments as important, a new generation of people willing to deliver, and you guys that have actually got the expertise and the mental capacity to help them do it.
And so, the question is, how do we make the most effective partnerships operate in order to do what government should do but often doesn't do, which is deliver improvements for people in their daily lives.
And if we can do that--and that is what the science of delivery to me is all about, you don't just make government more effective and put a country on the move and improve the lives of the people, you actually allow people to have some trust and faith in the political process that is government, and that is something of enormous benefit, not just to a country's future but to its stability and to its sense of confidence.
MODERATOR: Michael Barber, I wonder if you could tell us how you went about setting it up. And I also wonder, when a government agency or program found that they were going to be the ruthlessly prioritized focus of attention, did they think, "Great, we're going to get all this"--or did they think, "Oh, no"?
MR. BARBER: Well, it's a great question, and can I just add my thanks to the World Bank and to you, Susan, for hosting this event. It's a wonderful institution to be present at. It's got an enormous power to change the world for the better over the next three to four years, and any of the lessons that come out of this, if they contribute to that, that would make it a very worthwhile day.
But on your question, Susan, at the beginning, when Mr. Blair asked me if I would set the delivery up, I went to him with a list of about 20 or so things that I thought maybe the delivery unit can focus on, and one of my first lessons was, he said, "No, you've really got to strip this down to four key areas, really get the focus."
So, the first thing about setting this up is, if you want to do delivery, you can't do it for everything all at once; otherwise, you get tangled up. And so, prioritization, as Tony said, is key.
And around the priorities, you've got to define the goal. So, how would you know if you'd succeeded? What would the changed state look like? How would you recognize it and how would you know if you're on track to doing it at any given time?
As for your second question, did the department--were they pleased to be in it. I think the true answer at the beginning was, no, they weren't. They thought "Oh, my God. Who's this going to come from the center to check up on us?" But actually, once we got the process going, first of all, they were pleased to be a priority because that's better than not being a priority.
Secondly, they could--and their ministers--could get prime ministerial attention, which is a very, very big thing in any system, the leader's attention.
Thirdly, they got assistance from us.
And fourthly, we gave them the credit when they solved problems.
So, quite quickly, actually, they began to think, "Actually, this is different from what we've experienced in the past and we like it, we find it helpful. It's sometimes challenging, but it's always worthwhile."
And so, the science of delivery involves being clear about the priorities, getting the plans in place, having data systems that can track progress, having the routines that make sure you keep it going even if there are crises going on, and then building the relationships with the people who have got to do the delivery to make sure it gets happened.
So, actually the science of delivery is not complicated conceptually. The difficulty is the discipline of making it happen week after week, month after month.
MODERATOR: And Tony Blair, was there anything from your original vision that you had to revise that didn't work the way you expected, that you had to adjust because of human nature, because of the way bureaucracies work or for some other reason?
MR. BLAIR: Well, I mean, the whole concept of setting up a special mechanism to delivery something, to get something done, was itself an adjustment, right, in the whole way that the government worked.
But I think, as I went along--and in the work I do in countries now--see, sometimes what will happen--for example, in a country in which we worked, there was a desire to reduce child mortality and maternal mortality, the money was actually available from the international institutions, but what was lacking was any capacity within the Department of Health to deliver the program.
So, in the end, what I said to my folk and with the development partners, I said, "There's no point in us willing this to happen. We're going to have to help make it happen, and that's going to mean bringing in new personnel and new ways of doing it and a proper system of following it up and getting it done.
So, the adjustment, as it were, happens all the time, but it's always about that focus down on delivering the results on the ground and refusing, if you've got the wrong people in position refusing to let that remain and actually moving the correct people in and getting it done.
MR. BARBER: Just a note of extension to Tony's point: I think there's a lot of talk--and many of the World Bank people in the room and around the world will be familiar with this, about capacity building in countries and in governments, and I think capacity building in general is a very difficult thing to do, and there's a lot of ineffective capacity building.
But capacity building to do a specific job, to hit that particular goal in that particular country, that really focuses people's minds, helping people learn on the job, focused on delivering a goal, is very, very powerful, and the World Bank could play a big part in changing that around the world.
MODERATOR: Jim Kim, you have set a goal of ending extreme poverty by 2013. Is it possible that goal can be achieved in the absence--
DR. KIM: 2030, not 2013.
DR. KIM: That was the date--that was the target I started with, but they talked me into 2030.
MODERATOR: By 2030. Is it possible to reach that goal in the absence of some changes in reforms in the way services are delivered?
DR. KIM: I think there's no question. You know, we looked hard at the trend of poverty in the world, and it is just--there are so many of the low-hanging fruit that have already been picked. China lifted so many people out of poverty that the end game is going to be really difficult.
Have it once, have it twice, have it almost a third time is what we've got to do. So, it's really, really difficult, and I think that, for us, this was a recognition that having clear targets with clear end dates has to be the first step in transforming the way you do your work.
So, we're asking the question throughout the institution, "What would it take for us to be the organization that catalyzes most effectively these targets of ending poverty and the other one, boosting shared prosperity, looking at the extent to which the bottom 40 percent participate in economic growth?" What would it take for us to be the kind of organization that could catalyze that process?
And the discussion we had this morning, I think one of the insights that came to me was, well, the Prime Minister had a delivery unit, but wouldn't it be great if every single World Bank country team, every single World Bank Group country team, I mean, MIGA, IFC, IBRD, IDA, altogether, what if the leaders of those countries, the leaders in the private sector began to think of us as their delivery unit? What if they started to say, "Look, it's important to work with everybody and to have partnerships, but there's something different about the World Bank Group. They are understanding what our priorities are, and if you really want to get stuff done, they're one of the groups that you've got to have at the table." That's what we'd like to see.
MODERATOR: Is that the attitude, do you think, countries have now or do they have a different attitude toward the World Bank?
DR. KIM: Well, you know, I've traveled the world a lot and talked to a lot of different governments and of course what I've found is that there is a diversity of what people think about the World Bank Group. There are so many relationships that are so positive, but inevitably there are people in the countries that I visited who think about us as the old World Bank Group. We're the ones who are coming with ideological solutions, telling them what to do--now, I have to say that, in my personal experience, it's not what I've seen at all among our country teams, but there's still that perception out there.
I think that, through our science of delivery work, we have the potential of fundamentally shifting their perception and have leaders throughout the world think of us has their in-house, in-country partners who are going to help you deliver.
MR. BLAIR: Susan, can I chip in on that.
Just to take Jim Kim's target of the reduction of poverty by 2030, what the science of delivery would say with that is, okay, so, if that's where you've got to be in 2030, where do you need to be in 2016 and 2018 and 2020, and which of the 10 most important countries where the poverty reduction needs to happen, and where do they individually need to be and what is the plan at the level of the country to contribute to that overall global goal?
So, the science of delivery would say, "Break that down by country, by date." Don't leave it until 2027 and say, "Oh, my goodness, we're going to miss the target."
MODERATOR: We're going to pick up your questions. If you filled the question out on a card, just hold the card up. Somebody's going to come around and pick those up, now.
Well, Tony Blair, one reason the World Bank is so interested in this delivery unit approach is because it can work elsewhere, it has worked elsewhere. And I wonder if you could tell us about your experience in translating it to other places.
I read about Sierra Leone. Maybe you have another example that you think it would apply--where it's worked in places beyond the United Kingdom.
MR. BLAIR: It can basically work anywhere, because it's--and there's a lot of--one of the good things about this is that there is a lot of empirical evidence now as to what works and what doesn't.
I mean, I always say to the leaders I'm talking to today, there's good news and bad news. The good news is that what works is actually fairly clear. The bad news is that doing it is really tough.
So, for example, you want quality private sector investment in, it helps to have a proper rule of law system; that's just a fact.
If you look at education reform around the world today, there's very clear lessons as to what works and what doesn't.
And here's where I think the World Bank could do something very interesting: One of the most difficult things about government is innovation. You know, governments don't tend to be centers of innovation.
There's actually a great book written by--I mean, Michael's great book and President Kim's great book--a great book written by the guy that Deng Xiaoping put in charge of the opening up policy in China, and when he was first put in charge of trying to change that very rigid state system, he was sent out on a mission to investigate what life was like.
And so, he decided, as a trial, because everything was state controlled, to go and get a shirt made, right, but all the tailors were kind of--all the factories were state-owned. And one person said it would take him 12 months to deliver a shirt, another person 18 months. He finally found this factory called "Third-Class Garment Manufacturers," and they would only take six months.
So, he thought, "Well, six months, I might as well do that." So, he waited his six months and he got fitted out and all the rest of it and he got his shirt. And when he got his shirt the buttons were in the wrong place and the stitching wasn't quite right and the pattern didn't quite gel together. And he said to them, "This is substandard."
And they said, "No, don't be stupid. We are a third-class garment manufacturer. We manufactured a third-class garment. That's our job. Our job is not to manufacture a first-class garment, it's a third-class one."
So, the thing is, the government works in this very rigid way, and one thing I think that the World Bank could act as is a catalyst for innovation within government, because sometimes--I mean, I think this is particularly true in things like education and health care.
Here's what's really exciting about the developing world today, I think, in the opportunity it has: The developed world, if it was starting today, its educational health care systems would never create the systems we have. Technology alone would make us do it totally differently.
So, one thing I think guys like you could do out at the front line where you've got leverage with finance and you're working closely with government is to say, "Look, let's try and do this differently." You know, when we're delivering, let's not just, for example, get kids into primary school, right? You just stack them up on the numbers board. Let's look at the quality of education and how we teach and maybe how we do it differently. See what I mean?
So, I think there's a huge amount that the science of delivery encompasses which is more than just about the sheer result. It's also about the method of governing.
DR. KIM: So, this is a critical, critical understanding, because most people think that work on development or research on development stops when you understand what works, but what Prime Minister Blair made clear is that's just the beginning, because we may know "what works," but we don't know what will work in what way with what cultural or specific or social modifications in a particular environment, and we make this mistake in just about every social enterprise.
You know, in health care in the United States, why is there such a crisis in health care in the United States? Frankly, in my view, it's because we made that mistake. The assumption has been if you take good science and put it in the hands of trustworthy individuals, you're done, because we know what works. We know that cardiac catheterization gives you [unclear 0:21:10]--we know what works, but how do you actually take that in a given population and translate that into healthier people, not more procedures?
So, this is precisely I think where the rocket science begins, which is, I think, deeply connected to innovation. We can tell everybody in the world learning is more important than getting kids in seats, but how do you do it? What's the next step? What do you do if you take a great idea from Brazil to South Africa and, after a few months, it bogs down? What's next? What's after that?
To me, you can figure that out, and I think the exciting thing is that you guys figured this out in a very complicated context, every bit as complicated as the one we work in.
MR. BARBER: Yeah, just to pick up on your original question about examples of this in practice, and then pick up the points that Jim Kim and Tony Blair have just made.
In the Punjab education reform that I am actively involved with with the leaders of the Punjab education system, we have a strategy for getting kids into school. We've got approaching a million-and-a-half extra children in school in the last year or so.
We also have a focus on quality, because if you get the kids into school but don't get the quality, you get more kids in school but the quality actually falls. So, that is not happening.
And we have an innovation fund which is building public-private partnerships to invent the next wave of the reform. So, we are doing kids into school using the science of delivery; we're doing quality, testing out how to do that; and then, applying the science of delivery and we've got an innovation fund, which is thinking about what the next wave will look like, and not necessarily being like the developed world, because, for the reasons the Prime Minister gave, things have changed and we can use technology in new ways.
MODERATOR: Here's a question from our audience. It's directed to Prime Minister Blair.
Can you share your experience and what it takes to get large bureaucracies to buy into change? Technocrats are very change-averse. This questioner says.
MR. BLAIR: This is true.
DR. KIM: There's the wall I bang my head up against.
MR. BLAIR: I think Michael put his finger on it when he was talking about specifics.
You see, when I found when in government and found it since is that you get the change when you get a goal and get people working towards it. If you talked in general about change, you know, what I found out about reform, by the way, with governments, is that in general, everyone--in principle, everyone is in favor of it. It's when you start reforming individual departments that suddenly there's a thousand reasons why they shouldn't.
And the best way of getting around it is to take a specific and say we're going to focus on this, and focusing on that goal and building the team to deliver it, that is actually the best way of getting the bureaucracy to move and change.
And sometimes, when I talk about it, is it introduces a disruptive agent of change into the system and it's very interesting in our education reform in the UK with the academy system, which is a bit similar to the charter school system in the U.S., we started with one school--one school, because the system hated the notion--and all the vested interest in the system lined up to block it. So, we took literally the school with the worst results, a school that everyone--no one wanted to go to--it was hard for the people to resist saying, "Maybe we should do something different here." And we started with that and then, of course, as it succeeded, we were then able to roll it out.
So, it is very difficult to get bureaucracies to change, but my view--and the thing about government--and it is interesting, because I have a great respect, also, for public servants and for the traditions of public service, but I found the frustrating thing was people could always give you a thousand reasons for not doing something, but no one could ever give you a reason for doing anything.
And what I found was that the system had a genius for absorbing the system of change and stultifying it, I mean, a genius for it. I mean, it was literally the creative ability to prevent change was astounding and actually quite--I used to say to them, "If you could only be so creative at producing the change, we'd really be marching forward."
So, I think it's on the specifics is the way you get people to change. That was my practical experience.
MR. BARBER: Just a couple of general points about deliverology, one is a common critique of the science of delivery is it's very top-down and central, but what Tony's example just not gives you is actually you can use the science of delivery to do devolution and you need to take on the vested interests of the status quo in order to devolve. So, it doesn't need to be a centralizing thing.
The second thing is this point about risk management. Risk management tends to look at the risks of doing something. It rarely calculates the risk of doing nothing, but in many of the countries you're working in, the risks of doing nothing--Pakistan will be an example--are huge. So, doing something is much less risky than doing nothing.
MODERATOR: You use the word "deliverology," and I wonder if that was initially meant to be a flattering term about this concept or perhaps less than flattering one.
MR. BARBER: You know, it was a term of mild abuse when it was invented and, as with all terms of mild abuse, the best thing to do is to take them and turn them into an asset. So, take the words Yankee, Whig, and Tory the last 200 years, all started as terms of abuse and now are kind of standardized terms; some of them are no longer in use. But deliverology was a kind of gentle term of abuse for the systems and if I thought of the phrase the science of delivery back then, I would probably have used that rather than deliverology, but we've got it now, thanks to the President of the World Bank.
MR. BLAIR: I agree with that, by the way. It's a good phrase.
MODERATOR: We have some great questions from around the world. Several of them dealt with the issue of corruption. Let me just read two.
From Switzerland, there is this question: How willing is the World Bank to seriously address the issue of corruption to increase the speed of delivery? The current process is not working as well as it could.
And a related one from Ghana: To what extent can efficient public sector reduce corruption?
President Kim, maybe you could address that.
DR. KIM: Well, you know, there are some absolutes in the work that we do, and one of the absolutes is that we cannot tolerate corruption and, you know, it comes at some cost.
Literally, on the very first day that I joined the World Bank Group, I was presented with a project and we had to make a decision on that day about whether to cancel a very important bridge that would have had a huge development impact but we cannot have any tolerance from it, and we just have to figure out ways of both being intolerant of corruption and, at the same time, speeding up the projects that will have the most development impact.
You know, this bridge was in Bangladesh. We didn't stop our other work in Bangladesh. We're doing as much as we can to have a development impact, but there have to be some, right, lines in the sand where we don't move across, and then do everything we can to speed development impact around that.
MR. BLAIR: I mean, just a very quick point, here.
I think the best way--because corruption is the enemy of progress. The best way I have found in the countries that I work in is to try and introduce systems that squeeze it out. I mean, I'm more in favor of that than I am in anticorruption czars and so on, even though I think there's a place for all of that.
But for example, if you take public procurement, if you've got a proper system of public procurement in place that's transparent, you squeeze out the opportunities for corruption, and that's where I think we could focus.
DR. KIM: I mean, there's examples, one in which--in one country, we simply posted on the sides of schools the amount of money that was supposed to come to that school, and then the citizens themselves began to monitor how much of the money actually flowed, and we went from only 20 percent of the money getting to the point of delivery to 80 percent getting to the point of delivery.
And so, the insight there is, "Huh, public disclosure of how much money is supposed to come works."
Now, the science of delivery would say, "So, what's the principle there and how can we make sure that that kind of principle is at work in all these other areas?" And I think there are ways to do it. Again, that was a very simple intervention, but we can come up with the systems and structures that would squeeze it out, as the Prime Minister said.
MR. BARBER: I just want to reinforce this and I agree with this, and I think the country level on the ground, there's a--because it's a difficult thing to raise, there's a temptation to kind of tip-toe around it, and actually you have to name it, be plain-speaking about it, and deal with it.
So, in the Punjab education reform I mentioned a few minutes ago, there are 36 districts in Punjab. We insisted from the beginning on a merit-based appointment for each one of those 36 people. And when we thought that wasn't being applied rigorously, we said so and it was dealt with. So, I think you have to not tiptoe around it and I think you have to deal with it in a calm, plain-speaking way immediately.
MODERATOR: If someone listening to this conversation said, "I'm sold. I'm completely convinced," what would they do, Tony Blair? How would they proceed at this point?
MR. BLAIR: I think if you are government, the way to proceed is to get those priorities really sorted out.
For example, there might be--I mean, I think in--one of things that's changed in development today is I think electricity and infrastructure are absolutely critical to progress. If you get those right, everything else can follow. I think getting the right type of quality investment is absolutely vital, right?
So, I would take a few priority areas and I would create the mechanisms in partnership with the development community--and this is where the World Bank could play a great role--in creating the capacity at the center of government to deliver those projects on the ground. And I think it really is as simple as that.
And for the political leaders, they've got to ensure that they are devoting the time and attention to those changes that it merits, because otherwise what happens--I mean, we were talking about this earlier with some of the World Bank staff members, I mean, a lot of what--the problem--sitting in my seat, as it were, as a Prime Minister or as the president of a country, is what happens is you have these issues you want to delivery for your country--I mean, let's say you want a better education or your electricity and power, you want to build the roads, you want to get investment in the country, right.
So, you're sitting there and, in your quiet moments, which aren't many, you can think your way through these problems, but here's the problem you've got: There's events clattering at you every day. There's scandals, there's personnel problems. There's a whole stack of things that get in the way of getting things done. And if you're not careful, what happens is these priorities, you can have them there but they never go anywhere because the world closes in on you. So, that's why you need to create the mechanisms that mean that, even whilst you're having to deal with the passing scandal or big event, the thing is wearing away all the time. I used to call it the eye that never sleeps, which is him. You know, making sure all the time, whatever--I was having to bother myself with those priorities, with their--and then, you've got to get the leadership. And I say this to the presidents and prime ministers I work with, "You've got to have the self-discipline to get yourself sat down and make sure those priorities are happening," and don't tell me it can't be done, because it can be done, and if it isn't done and your political will is not behind that, it'll never happen.
You don't need a lot of the leader's time, but you need it routinely and reliability. So, an anecdote I told earlier, on September 11, 2001, I'd been on the job for two months. Obviously, the whole world changes for the Prime Minister, for everybody else in the world and I go past the Prime Minister's office and in the office, there are transport people, airline people, foreign policy people, military people, spy people, you name them. They're all clamoring around the Prime Minister offering advice, because this is a big crisis.
I pass. I think, should I go in and do something? No, my job is to keep delivery focused. The delivery should never sleep in the way that the Prime Minister just described. So, you need a mechanism that will never, ever be distracted from delivering the goals that you've set.
MODERATOR: And you write about that in your writing on the experience of Pakistan. You had a phrase, I think it was "Crises strike governments; routines deliver results." Tell us what you mean by that.
MR. BARBER: Yeah, so, I mean, the government is driven by crises as the Prime Minister was saying, and unless you build some routines into the system, you just do crisis management, and many, many governments spend their whole time doing crisis management.
I quote the Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin when he finished after a couple of years in office and said, "We tried to do better, but everything turned out as usual." What he meant was for two years, all he did was deal with the daily crisis. Unless you build routines focused on the priorities and the goals you're trying to achieve, and you have to make an effort to do that.
MODERATOR: Is that harder than it sounds, Tony Blair?
MR. BLAIR: Yeah. No, absolutely. And I think the final point I'd make is that I came across a quote from Genghis Khan, by the way, who is not my role model in every aspect of governance--
MR. BARBER: Just some of them.
MR. BLAIR: Right, just when you deal with errant cabinet members, but he said that the--conquering the world on horseback was easy. "The hard part was when I had to dismount and govern." And that is actually the tough--you know, government is a tough job, and I think what I would say is my passion of this comes from the fact that I know what I often lacked in government and what I then was able to do something about certainly in the second half of my tenure, and this is your opportunity as World Bank people.
You know, you're pretty smart, on the whole. You've got a lot of experience and a lot of expertise, and for the politicians, they're desperate for that. I know it doesn't always seem like it, but they are. They need help, and they need help on the technical side, because it is tough.
Now, what you can do is help build the capacity to govern so that the politics and the technical side come into alignment. And if you do that, believe me--and even in a--you know, I would say this to my presidents or prime ministers at the beginning of their term--I'd say, if you could deliver just three things that are clear and definite and no one will dispute, you will have achieved a great deal for your country, and by the way, you can do it, but the only way you do it is to govern in a different way from the traditional politics.
MODERATOR: We've gotten several questions that deal with technology, the impact of technology.
Here's one from Hungary, this questioner says, "eGovernment in LDCs, less money for education, and more for computerization, how can it work?"
And from the United States: Given the surge of Internet access and its use in the last decade, what are some ways in which technology may facilitate and improve the delivery of key public services?
In your experiences, what are some initiatives that may be used by governments as models for this purpose?
MR. BARBER: Thank you for that question.
Well, look, technology is changing, lots of processes outside of government, inside of government, and it has a huge liberating potential. The key thing, though, is not to focus on the technology but on the problem you are trying to solve. So, I think identifying the problems and then saying, "How can technology help us?" is the way to do this rather than focusing on can we embed technology across the system. So, that's one thought I have.
And then, the second thought is, you can use technology now to get really good, rapid data in close to real time, and you can't do the science of delivery without good data. Lots of--Whitehall--lots of the British Government system when we started just over a decade ago, was a data-free zone. There were essays written by civil servants with almost no real-time data. So, putting in place the data systems makes a big difference. Technology can help with that. You need to analyze it quickly, you need to use it effectively.
And then, the other thing that you can use technology for is to get interaction with people so the quality of communication between the frontline and the center should be something that you can prove very significant.
So, my plea would be focus on the problem and use the technology to solve it. Use it to get good data and use it to get effective communication.
DR. KIM: I would say a critical issue is just that: What's the problem?
And I think for a while we thought that the problem was lack of hardware, that if you get hardware into kids' hands, that the solution of the problem, and I think groups like the Khan Academy and others have shown it's not the hardware, it's the software, it's the learning part.
And the interesting thing in education is that educators in general--and I, having run one of the Ivy League institutions, it's amazing how fundamental insights of how people learn have not been penetrating the way that we teach, even at places like in my experience, Dartmouth College. We're not really looking at how the human brain takes in information and using that in--even in our teaching in some of the greatest institutions in the world.
And so, the opportunity is that if we understand what the problem is, which is not getting hardware into people's hands but actually getting kids to learn, we could actually leapfrog generations of bad practice by going and using some of the newer ideas that actually have increased learning.
So, for example, freshman first-year college students math, chemistry, physics, are probably much more effectively taught through online systems than by lecturing. But still, in all the great institutions in the world, we lecture. We still lecture on a regular basis. So, that's the real opportunity.
I think the opportunity is, if we know what the problem is and we know what we need to solve it, we shouldn't go forward and solve a problem that's not real, hardware in kids' hands, for example.
MR. BARBER: Yeah, I mean, if you take higher education, which you just referred to, the problem is how do you get more young people or students to higher standards of performance at lower cost, that's the problem, because the costs are skyrocketing, and the value of a degree is questionable in some degree in some locations. So, if you can get higher performance for lower cost, technology can help do that.
And actually, I just published something called "An Avalanche is Coming" on that very theme. I think it is a big opportunity for the higher education system.
DR. KIM: And again, we have to remember, learning is the problem, not whether or not kids have technology in their hands.
MODERATOR: Tony Blair, you said a minute ago that you tell world leaders think of achieving three measurable that people cannot--that indisputably, at the end of your term, you can say, "This is what I did."
So, from your experience in United Kingdom, what you say those--in applying them to the science of delivery, your work on delivery--if someone said, "What are the three things that you would cite from your own record," what would you say?
MR. BLAIR: Right. So, we were able, at the end of--when I came into my third election in 2005 and say we definitely got our health service waiting list down, we definitely improved the school results, and we cut crime. There are lots of things that people were complaining or angry about, but they couldn't dispute those three things.
So, I think governments--that's the way they do it.
Here's something else that I think is really important, and it's got some reference to this technology, and that is--because again I think this is where you guys can help governments.
I do think innovation is important, not just in the use of technology to produce, say, greater learning, better results, and so on, but in innovation and structure, as well.
I mean, you see, again, if you take education today, I mean, what I found in our system--but I think this is true with developing world systems, as well, is, once we started to introduce different types of provider, you know, a bit of innovation through different types of people being able to get at--break into a state monolith, then you started to get real traction within the system, and change.
And I think this idea of the World Bank as a--not just as a deliverer of the results, as it were, but as a source of the best innovative practice from around the world. I think that's really important, too.
And I tell you, one of the things that I often find in developing countries, where they say, "You know, we have a certain tradition in the way we do things," or, "We don't really want outsiders to come and tell us what to do," and everything. And I always say to them, "Look, you can like it or not like it, but this is the way Singapore got itself sorted out, right?" It was born out of being thrown out of the union with Malaysia. It had very little to begin with. It ended up basically taking in the expertise that it needed. So, it imported intellectual capital, but today it's an exporter of intellectual capital.
And one of the things I think is a really important lesson, I always say to presidents and prime ministers, I put through some of my health service reforms with some people who weren't British, right?
The British car industry, by the way, was revived in the 1980s by the Japanese. And there are really important lessons from around the world about how you take this change in.
I remember, because the Japanese put the car plant up in the north of England where my Constituency was, and we had a coalmining industry that was there and, at the time, people were very reluctant and people said, "We've got the Japanese coming in. They're going to be taking us over and what are we going to do, and isn't it terrible," and so on.
And I remember a big meeting, rather like this, actually, in the Durham county hall where everyone was speaking against this Japanese investment coming into the northeast. And the old leader of the council who is himself a former miner just got up and said, "The world is changing. If these Japanese can come in and do a better job, let's have them here. Maybe we'll learn something."
And actually, that's what happened. They came in and we did learn something, and today the British car industry is doing better than it has ever done.
So, one of the things that you can help leaders in these countries realize is this kind of nationalistic pride, it's the opposite of what you need. What you need is the decision that wherever there is something to learn, you're going to learn it, and wherever there's a lesson to apply, you're going to apply it, and wherever the best practice is, you're going to go out and find it and bring it in, because that's actually what produces change.
DR. KIM: So, here's a question for both of you: When the World Bank--the first six months I spent just talking to people and I asked in the units a very simple question, "What are you most proud of as staff of the World Bank Group, and tell me about it, and what would it take to get us there?"
And so, what I heard again and again and again is just that. When we're at our best, we go into a situation and it's in crisis and we always send our best people, and our best people know all the other best people and so they're able to bring quickly all the experience of the World Bank Group, and even experience outside the World Bank Group and say, "Here. Here are ten different ways countries have solved this problem. I'm not sure which one is the best for you. Let's talk about it." And then, they move and move and move.
So, we can do that and we have done that again and again. So, what does it take for us to be able for us to do it all the time? So, that's the question I asked, and I've been mulling it over.
MR. BARBER: Well, it's a great question, and I just wanted to reinforce the point that Tony was making a few minutes ago that while you're reforming the system, bringing in competition to the system and therefore threatening the monopoly is an important way of driving delivery, and I would say that was a key part of our insight from that time.
And on this question, it was a debate we actually often had in Downing Street was, how come the system can perform when there's a crisis, but when it's routine delivery, for some reason, it struggles. And in fact, a lot of what the Delivery Unit was doing was applying the knowledge of how you deliver in a crisis to routine situations or, to put it a different way, a slow-moving crisis like a generation of children being betrayed, you'd call it a crisis, because although it's not going to be a crisis from one day to the next, it's a crisis in the long run, and then you apply the learning to that.
So, if you have an education that is betraying a generation of children, you don't have an immediate disaster, but you are actually--it's a slow-moving crisis. If one in ten planes crashed, that would be a total disaster, but if one in ten children fail, we call that success. So, getting people to think differently about how you have to change the systems and what really is a crisis and what isn't, then applying the knowledge in the way that the President has just said, I think that's the way to go.
MR. BLAIR: And I think I would add just simply this.
I think what you can do in the World Bank is add a toolkit to what you do that is about working with the host government with your client country government to change their processes so that the good work that you are doing has got an echo or a partner on the other side. Because very often what you will find is that you can tell them what to do, but you can't actually personally do it. And if they're not going to do it and they haven't the capacity to do it, then what happens is you have the best laid plans, but they founder.
And the one thing I think that you've got because of the unique sort of position of the World Bank and the reputation of the World Bank, which actually is high. I mean, it's--I find when I'm in countries and dealing with World Bank people, you get an authoritative view of what's happening in a good way, I think if you were able to add a dimension to your work that is about how you actually help your client country to put in place the processes that are going to make work the help that you bring to those countries, I think that would be--and trying that and seeing how you can do that most effectively, I think that would be a very worthwhile piece.
DR. KIM: Well, one of the things you said is you've got to try things first, so how could you do that? We've seen again and again and again courageous, brilliant, charismatic leaders that have to govern. You've said it--you know, quoting Genghis Khan. What would be a first step? What could we do? How do you train people in governance?
These are highly respected people who have gone through terrible situations and have come out victorious. What would you do?
MR. BARBER: Well, I think one of the risks, by the way, of the science of delivery is we try to make it too pure a science and so we don't do anything until we've proved 100 percent that it will work replicably everywhere.
So, one of the things I would say to people is, "Well, if you've got some good evidence and an instinct that you might be able to get this done in this way, try it, get started." And then, if you've got the process of delivery, you can use your stock-takes in your data to review, refine, develop. Don't let the best be the enemy of the good. Don't let the purity of the evidence-based policy prevent you from getting started. So, get started, build a process, and then refine as you go, and I think that's a very important thing.
And then, the second is you really--however talent--Tony was saying this earlier, getting elected involves a whole set of skills which aren't the same skills as governing. And so, you have to learn how to govern. And if you get the process right, you can learn faster.
There's some really interesting work on how you become expert to anything, chess, sports, and so on, and basically it's 10,000 hours of deliberate practice. If you work that out for a Prime Minister--
DR. KIM: It's two terms.
MR. BARBER: --if you work really hard, you might have done 10,000 hours after three-and-a-half years, and that, interestingly, is exactly when Prime Minister Blair said he was understanding how he needed to change delivery. So, the 10,000 hours of deliberate practice is a key issue.
And the issue for the World Bank is, can we apply the knowledge so that leaders don't have to do 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to get started effectively.
DR. KIM: So, that is my question, because I've met with lots of leaders, and I've yet to be asked to put together a course to help them govern more effectively.
So, what would you do?
MR. BARBER: I think the only way to rate this work is to try it out. I'd take a couple of situations or a couple of countries and give it a try, see if you can put together the way of doing it, the right system and capacity. I mean, just do it.
I mean, I think in the countries that I work in now, today, I mean, it really is a--it's a conversation that politicians find curious, by the way.
I mean, I remember when I was first in government and they said to me, "I want to go out and talk about the health service delivery," and I said, "Look, I don't really know what I'm talking about when I'm talking about that." And actually, what they said was, "You're a politician, why does it matter, you know, it suits your skill."
But I find this--one of the things that the leaders need--you see, this is where the World Bank has got a unique ability to--both in terms of access and in terms of influence, and also because they want something out of you is to say, "Look, part of your job as leader is to be able to get to grips with these very specific issues and deal with it."
And I think the best--my suggestion is get a--try it out, because I think you would find that you learned so much in the doing that you could then develop that toolkit in the way that I was talking about.
MR. BLAIR: A sentence that just strikes me listening to this debate for the World Bank is the money is important but it is not the most important thing the World Bank has, it is the ability to apply the knowledge to situations. That is more important than all the money that you spend or learn.
MODERATOR: President Kim, we've been talking mostly about the public sector, but private sector firms have been leaders in delivery and in reforms of delivery.
In what role do you think the private sector would play in this area, in delivery for development?
DR. KIM: It's critical. You know, in a recent meeting with a lot of leaders, in talking about the post-2015 agenda, what I said was, "Look, if our aspirations are limited to the envelope of official development assistance, we're not going to get very far," and there's no question the private sector has to play a huge role.
I was just in India. Both the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance told me that we have a $1 trillion infrastructure deficit, and they were quite specific: "53 percent we think we can handle with public sector funding; 47 percent has to come from the private sector, but we've got to do it in a way that's actually strategic for all of India going into the future."
So, I think this is one of our huge, huge assets here at the World Bank Group, that we have IFC, we have MIGA, that is political guarantees. We have ways of not only working with the public sector but making our own private sector investments one small part of a much larger investment that turns out to be focused on development goals. This is what we do. The IFC development goals are focused on using the private sector to achieve development outcomes.
So, it's critical for us--and this is why I have been emphasizing so much that we should be known as the delivery folks who are able to bring public and private sector together in a way that will push forward your highest aspirations so you can deliver on your promises to the people. That's the story that I would like everyone to be repeating over and over again.
MODERATOR: Here's a question from our audience:
In addition to the science of delivery, is there also an element of art of delivery that relies on experience to adapt to context?
MR. BLAIR: Yes, because you cannot ignore the politics and the art lies in that.
And one thing I was very lucking in having--and Michael is the head of the unit--was someone who was able to work in a small [unclear 0:55:12] political way across the system. So, I think the art of delivery is very important, as well.
And building those relationships with the--because people get very nervous about people coming in from the outside and telling them what to do and so on, so the art of delivery, yes, is incredibly important.
And just one point of what President Kim was just saying now, I think you, again, have a unique selling point in this public-private partnerships, and in my view there is a massive intellectual capital out there in the private sector that could be utilized in the process of delivery.
MR. BARBER: On the art of delivery, one of the things we did in the original Delivery Unit was train all the staff in the principles of conflict resolution, so, how to negotiate, and we went very deep into that so that they could build--they could take tough messages to a department and come back with the relationship stronger. It's really worth thinking about that, and there is a whole subjective element to this.
The other thing which is the big political level is, if you take what Prime Minister Blair has just said and you start on something and try something, sometimes that's not going to work, and it may certainly not work in year one. So, there is a political challenge of getting through the implementation dip. You announce something, everybody says it won't work. Maybe the first few results aren't that good. You've got to have the political courage to get through the implementation dip. And being able to predict that as a Delivery Unit and say to a minister, "You're going to try this and, in six months' time, everybody is going to be complaining, but stick with it because we'll know that you're on track." So, getting through the implementation dip requires political courage and art.
MODERATOR: We are just about out of time, but I wanted to save a few minutes so that each of you could tell us what you hope people take away from this conversation, or a key point that you think that perhaps we haven't hit hard enough.
President Kim, do you want to go first?
DR. KIM: I would just say, look, I couldn't be more optimistic and excited after my first nine or ten months here. I have tremendous faith in all of you here today. Every time I visit a country, I become even more optimistic about what we can do, but I think we need to evolve the organization so that you are capable of being at your best every single day.
I think there are things that we can do right now in this reform process that will get everyone in the world to understand the enormous value that we bring to the table every day.
And what the first thing I want is for us to share this vision of what it would be like if everyone came to us when they were most serious about delivering on their promises to the people. We have to be that way and I think we can be that for our clients.
And the other thing I want you to take away is that there are people in very important positions of the world like Prime Minister Blair and Michael Barber who have actually made it work. It can actually work, and it may not look like the way they did it in the UK Government but we know it can work.
And so, just know that, given the positive examples that we have seen here today, I am not going to stop asking about the science of delivery and how we can get better for the entire time that I'm leading this institution.
MODERATOR: Prime Minister Blair, what do you hope this audience walks away with?
MR. BLAIR: I mean, I hope people go away and think, "Well, what could we actually do to achieve this and operationalize it?" I mean, that, to me, what would be interesting is to think of the ways it can actually be translated into practice, and I think that the other thing is to realize we live in the 21st century, in an age where I think a lot of the lessons of governance are far clearer than they were in the middle of the 20th century.
In other words, I think there is a lot of experience now as to what works and what doesn't. And I say with all deference to President Kim, but I was saying this on TV the other day--I mean, not to go into the politics of North Korea, South Korea, and so on, but here are these two countries in somewhat different states because of somewhat different decisions and politics. And governance does matter, it makes a difference, and the key thing today is we do more or less know what can make a country move well and what can't.
And so, I think the thing that would be exciting to me is if what people took away from this is how can we do not just what we have done traditionally but how can we add a dimension of ambition that is about how we can work with the client country that we've got to get them in the space in which they can actually make this thing and where we can have been, in part and in partnership, the agents of the actual delivery of change.
MODERATOR: And Michael Barber, we'll give you the last word.
MR. BARBER: Well, thank you.
The first thing that I'll go away from here is thinking this is a huge opportunity for the World Bank to realize its full potential. The opportunity is enormous and the leadership we have heard today is very, very impressive. It is great to have so many people here.
The second is to reinforce the point that Tony Blair has just made, which is, given the state the world is in, given the challenges in many of the countries you are working in, ambition trumps risk aversion every time.
MODERATOR: Well, on behalf of the World Bank, let me thank our two excellent panelists and President Kim for being with us and our audience here and around the world.