Startup Ecosystem and the World Bank


This has been a rich couple of days at the I Building of the World Bank. At the invitation of Maria Luisa Escobar of the Health and Nutrition Practices team, I’ve been sharing our broad approach to innovation, on behalf of colleagues from CKS, the Bihar Innovation Lab and our sister entities at the Vihara Innovation Campus.

Maria Gonzalez de Asis is focused on Operations and Learning, and we had a great chat that’s worth sharing. Why not employ techniques like Lean Startup, I had asked. Too different a case she replied, we’re too large, governments are involved… But maybe those methods could be adapted for the Bank. We began thinking about how to match the logic of the Bank to a Startup Ecosystem.

The TTL (Task Team Leader) is sort of like the entrepreneur. He’s the guy trying to get something new accomplished. At a country level the administration is often focused exclusively on dealmaking so in effect they’re kind of like VCs — they have to maintain dealflow as well as optimize the overall value and risk of their total portfolio. There are peer reviewers, broadly analogous to say fund partners.

Now the moment for lean methods and rapid prototyping isn’t after the intervention has been approved — it’s before! There are lots of ways to do dirty prototyping and field testing and validation of a new idea, from N different dimensions to ensure that when you do launch you’re addressing new and unanticipable problems.

There’s definitely something here. We’ll keep talking…

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