Playing Detective

I’ve always been a sucker for a good detective drama and today it struck me about how much my Pulse assignment has become playing the role of a detective.

The early phase of the partnership has been focused on setting up logistics to launch in-country programmes, deciding which products would be most effective in supporting on the ground interventions, defining our joint advocacy strategy of how best to use our combined voice, looking at how best to improve supply chains so that children and their parents can access essential services and products and gathering baseline data to better understand what’s needed to help the most vulnerable children.  At this point in the journey together, we simply haven’t yet reached the point where there’s data routinely pouring in and this makes trying to quantify impacts a very difficult challenge. 

Coming from a scientific environment and having a personal style that places great emphasis on the power of robust data, I’ve often been used to dealing with black and white figures to show exactly what, when and where.  It’s therefore required somewhat of a shift in mindset to think not just in terms of direct attribution (which children we are helping save, where and when) but to think more broadly, more strategically and more longer term about how our joint activities might be contributing to different outcomes and ultimately a positive impact for children.

Much of my role so far has been about painstakingly gathering in information from a vast variety of documents and then talking to all the leaders of the different work streams to build up a picture and establish some plausible explanations of what could be going on to lead to an outcome.  Then it’s about gathering credible evidence to back up the hypothesis. 

My assignment has often felt like a cross between the work of Saga Noren (from the programme the Bridge) being relentless in rooting out linkages between disparate pieces of information and that of DS Hathaway (from the programme Lewis) persisting with door to door enquiries to hear from “eye witnesses” often going back to people several times.

I am absolutely relishing this difficult conundrum and whilst there have been days where I’ve felt like I’ve taken a step back, there are many others where I have discovered new facts to help move the partnership measurement and evaluation forward several steps. 

And much like a detective drama, I imagine that the case for our partnership will ultimately get a trial by jury, because the eyes of both the external world (other corporate, other NGOs, governments etc) and the internal world (our own employees) will be firmly upon the evidence produced.  So no pressure! 

Now on a different note…..

Once again my Pulse adventure has allowed me a privileged inside view of the great work of Save the Children through their campaigns.  I’m sure many of you may have seen the latest advert on TV or social media to mark the next phase of Save’s No Child Born to Die campaign.  I watched as Save’s communications team who work on the same floor as me launched the ad on 25th February and then awaited the global feedback. 

I felt a powerful blow to the stomach by use of the word “ONLY”.  1 million babies around the world die on their first – and ONLY – day of life.  Most of these deaths are preventable with the help of a trained and equipped midwife.  If you’d like to view the ad, here’s a link.  Please note it contains a live birth and images that some may find distressing.


This galvernised me to something I would never previously have considered before my assignment, which was to sign a petition to call on David Cameron to spur the world into training and funding more life-saving midwives. If you are interested in finding out more about Save’s Newborn Promise petition to ensure that by 2025 every baby is born with the life-saving support of a midwife, then here’s the link.