Podcast Episode 5 —Sanjay Purohit: Designing for (massive) scale

by | October 11, 2021 | Podcasts, Tech for Good, Tech Matters Podcast

Image adapted from SocietalPlatform.org. CC BY-SA 4.0

Sanjay Purohit

As Chief Curator of Societal Platform, Sanjay Purohit‘s role is to bring together, cross-fertilize, and guide an ecosystem of organizations, leaders, and initiatives all dedicated to addressing complex problems at, truly, massive scale in areas such as education, healthcare, and finance. Sanjay walked us through what he sees as effective strategies and fundamental challenges in organizing societal efforts to tackle these problems. Some key insights: differences between designing for thousands vs. millions of users; focusing platform design on one “core” interaction; empowering networks and organizations that already exist; and more.

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Jim Fruchterman [00:00]

Welcome to the Tech Matters Podcast, an audio series about digital technology and social entrepreneurship. I’m your host, Jim Fruchterman. Over the course of this series, I’ll be talking to some amazing social change leaders about how they are using tech to help tackle the wicked problems of the world. We’ll also learn from them about what it means to be a tech social entrepreneur, how to build a good tech team, exit strategies, ethical use of data, finding money, and making sure that when you’re designing software, you’re putting people first.

Sanjay Purohit has decades of leadership experience in both the private and social sector, and is now Chief Curator at Societal Platform. Societal Platform Thinking is aimed at designing platforms for social change at scale. And we’re talking, by India’s standards, hundreds of millions of people. As Chief Curator, Sanjay’s role is not to create ideas out of the blue but to help nurture and develop the ecosystem of ideas, people and organizations that already exist. Let’s hear from him on what this looks like exactly and what social entrepreneurs can learn from this approach.

Welcome, Sanjay to the Tech Matters Podcast. We’re delighted to be talking about doing tech for good at massive scale with Societal Platform Thinking. We’re just delighted to be exploring these ideas with you, because I know you’ve been thinking about them a great deal.

Sanjay Purohit [01:26]

It’s a pleasure and a privilege to be here. We are also super inspired by the work that you have been driving at Tech Matters, and looking forward to the conversation today.

Jim Fruchterman [01:38]

Well, thank you! I think that there’s so many great ideas and great examples of those ideas that I think you have to share with us. What I’m particularly excited about is, in some ways, the massive ambition that is expressed in Societal Platform Thinking for changing the world and done in some really interesting ways. I would love for you to just give us the background on what is Platform Thinking and how you see it changing the world for the better.

Sanjay Purohit [02:18]

So let me try this like a story. So going back in 2016, we sat down to think about what were the experiences that we had had on the ground with large scale technology for societal development. And there were a lot of lessons to be learned from Aadhaar, which is the biometric identification system of India, or the or the Unified Payments Interface, which is the payments engine for the country, and the associated platforms around know-your-customer or around digital lockers. And the work at EkStep Foundation had just started a few years ago on education. And we said, let us consolidate and see if there’s a pattern and the idea or the concept or the seed of Societal Platform Thinking was born.

We said, if we have to do this, let us focus on some large problems, because technology for development has been used and continues to be used and will be used in the future in many colors, shapes, and sizes, but we will be useful to the ecosystem and to the people who are trying to make a difference at scale only if we look at a very different magnitude of the problem. Because then we will stretch our imagination, we will stretch out constructs, we will try to do something which has not been attempted before, or at least we’ll learn from it.

So, we started defining some large questions. For example, how do you improve access to learning about literacy and numeracy for 200 million children? The moment you put that construct—200 million children—suddenly your frame starts changing. Or we started asking this question saying, what does it take to generate sustainable livelihoods for 100 million families, or 100 million households as we use the term? What does it take to improve health care to 100 million families in rural and distant parts of India?

Jim Fruchterman [04:23]

And of course, people, when they say “design for scale”, they’re often thinking about designing for 50,000 people or 100,000 people. This is… orders of magnitude different. And I noticed you didn’t say technology at all in your description of the problems that you want to tackle. So where does technology come into this platform approach of hitting these kinds of kind of targets?

Sanjay Purohit [04:51]

So we early on realized that there were three important fundamental concepts that we had to work. One was, like you rightly mentioned, scale. And we said what is scale? And do we get confused between growth and scale? So, 5000 schools go to 10,000 schools and we say we are “scaling”—or is it better to say that we are growing? Which is amazing, we love that and, and we have deep respect for all the social entrepreneurs who go from that 5000 to 10,000 because it makes a massive difference to society. But, we said, scale requires a scale. So, what is zero? And where does it stop? What’s the scale? If you look at the case of schools, zero to 1.5 million, and can we grade this, can we now say: If you cover two and a half percent of this, then you’re still in a prototyping phase, you’re still learning. If you do 10% of this, you’re proving relevance, you may not even be relevant unless you do 150,000 schools, because there’s so many factors. Or, at 30%, you start becoming significant. And 30% of 1.5 million sports is 450,000 schools. That’s a lot of schools. And so, we said, let’s define the scale.

The second thing he said is, let’s focus on speed. Because when you want to work at this scale, you have to move really fast, because problems also grow, they’re not static problems. Children grow up, people move, livelihoods get created and get lost, economic shocks come, all sorts of things happen. So, you have to move quickly. So, we said speed is important.

Third is sustainability. Because a such a large-scale change can only be sustained if you shift the equilibrium, rather than trying to figure out a few points of sustainability here and there. And we said, how do you do this: speed, scale, and sustainability? You have to have some tools in your hands. And that’s how we came to this construct, saying, it needs a technological backbone. Technology is not the answer, it is the backbone on which these answers have to be sought. It is the backbone on which these new capabilities have to be created. So, it is not the answer, it’s an infrastructure. And we said that at the intersection of infrastructure, innovation, and inclusion lies the platform. And rather than sort of relegating it to saying, “technology is the platform”—technology is not the platform—technology is the infrastructure required to enable a platform.

Jim Fruchterman [07:29]

So, I want to build on that and dissect a real example that I was very impressed with when you shared it with me, which was how, inside of two or three years, you reached over 100 million children with a much more enriched experience.

Sanjay Purohit [07:49]

Rohini and Nandan Nilekani, along with our colleague, Shankar Maruwada, the three of them came together to set up the EkStep Foundation, they are the co-founders, with the intent of “how do we improve access to learning opportunities for 200 million children in India”. That was about 2014. And the journey began. And it has been through multiple phases of pivots and failures. About 2017 is where there was a massive initiative taken by the government of India to reimagine how they develop their teachers. That led to this partnership where the government of India actually built the platform called Diksha. And over the years, that platform has grown to be the important backbone platform of India as far as education is concerned.

All of this happened, because of the co-creation partnership between the various actors, their ability to come together. They were private sector players, like the consulting firms, they were foundations like Central Square Foundation. They were tech foundations, like EkStep, all coming together, focused on one vision—actually an interesting tagline was born called “Our teachers, our heroes”. And the whole construct was built around saying, if you want to reach 200 million children, you actually have to work with the immediate ecosystem of children, which is teachers (India has 10 plus million teachers). So how do you work with them? A third of India does not even have internet access. And another third does not have a smartphone. So how do you work in an assisted construct? How do you work with teachers so that they are able to then take this capability over to children, and over time it gets better and better.

Let’s look at the backdrop in which we’re working. Let’s paint the scenario. We’re talking about one and a half million schools. We’re talking about 140 million students. About 156 million of them in government schools. Twenty plus regional languages as mediums of instructions. Now we’re talking of 20 plus mediums of instruction. About 60 plus education boards. And that 10 million teachers that we talked about. How do you find a way to connect with this ecosystem?

In Societal Platform Thinking, we call this the quest for the core interaction. Where is the core? Where is the essence? And through many cycles of experiments, we realized that the moment of truth is when the teacher enters the classroom and faces the child. And what do they do? At that point in time, they open the textbook—all children open the textbook, the teacher opens the textbook. And there’s enough and more written about how then rote learning happens, and people repeat things, and all that stuff. So, we said, let us intercept that moment and see if we can open a different door in that moment: can we open a different portal in that moment, rather than the regular path of repeating what’s written in the textbook? And that led us to this idea saying, let us insert a QR code at different strategic points in textbook that invokes curiosity and develop people’s capacity. And the same thing is accessible to the child, to the parents, to the teacher. And so that’s how we got to this idea of QR coding the textbook, and then building layers and layers and layers of technology processes, systems policies around that moment, because that is the moment when the child learns, the child needs to be curious, the teacher needs to be curious. And that is the moment we want to really change.

Jim Fruchterman [11:55]

But you got all of these different school boards, all these different states, who often were in charge of their own textbooks, to all put QR codes that were unique to their language and each chapter… and then you had to build up all this content that would show up when you hit that magic moment—because “I know where you are in the book”—and there’s enrichment content aimed at the teacher and at the student, and if the parent wants to look at the same point, that works as well… That’s amazing, I mean, I know it’s a very simple idea, but suddenly you have to do a lot of work to make that all happen at the kind of national scale that you’re describing. And you were able to do that in—how long, from when you actually had a clear vision of what it was to when it reached that kind of scale? Just a few years, right?

Sanjay Purohit [12:50]

That’s right. We started in 2017. And when we ended the last year, we had done about 1.85 billion learning sessions, about 16 billion learning minutes, in 30 plus languages in a year. Like we do in Platform Thinking, every platform goes through a sublinear phase. And the sublinear phase is a lot of paddling under the water, right? Putting the building blocks, building the deck, building the ecosystems, making the connections, writing the policies, all sorts of stuff. And there’s a lot of quiet. And then you get into this growth phase, when numbers start stacking up. And then it goes super-linear, just because it opens up the entire ecosystem. And currently we are in the super-linear phase. What that means is the platform has now morphed into what is called the National Digital Education Architecture of India, which essentially is an open ecosystem for multiple technologies to connect. We don’t believe that any one technology should be the foundation. It can be a seed. But then you have to create an ecosystem where every technology in basic education should be able to interoperate and work together—because India is a very large country for any one technology to solve all problems for all time to come. That would be a very naïve perspective to take.

Jim Fruchterman [14:28]

Well, future-proofing just makes me excited because that 2D barcode might lead to different content in three years, if you figured out that the training that you did for the teachers in this particular module wasn’t that successful and you revamped it. And yet, the same textbook can continue to be used right? That’s part of the design goal. The hard part is getting a book that is this window for the teacher and others into this much richer content world.

Sanjay Purohit [14:59]

To your point, when this entire work was happening, the entire technology was released into an open-source project called Sunbird. So Sunbird.org is the project. The work of the QR code was released into an open-source project called DIAL, Digital Infrastructure for Augmented Learning. And the idea was that the QR code should be an infrastructure, it can connect to anything. What it is, is an address, and it leads to containers. It’s an address that leads to containers. Now, you observed that in that container you can change content, you can re-sequence it, you can have different languages over time. So you don’t have to go around reprinting the textbooks because you have a flexible infrastructure in the container to keep on changing. Unless the curriculum changes—that’s a different matter altogether. But you don’t have to change it because you have better content, right? Because there’s no time to change 2 billion books if you have better content. And the whole idea is to get better and better at the content.

The Government of India also put in a lot of effort to create content creation infrastructure in various states and launched a program called VidyaDaan—in Hindi, vidya daan means the “donation of knowledge”—and invited everybody to take their knowledge and donate it to this platform, to take their content and donate it to this platform. So, it started a content donation process. And I think that was very important for us, because like you rightly observed, we are talking of so many languages, so many boards. And if you do all that multiplication, it will just go all over the place, right? The sheer math of it. So, we had 1000s of teachers contributing content, different NGOs contributing content, different state boards contributing content, because it’s just a way bigger problem to solve for any one content creator.

Jim Fruchterman [16:53]

I have to ask, you know—I’m sure many of our listeners are social entrepreneurs, right? And they’re like, I want to change the world, I want to make it better. How is it actually possible to convince a society or a large segment of society that this is possible? Is it the reputation of your founder, you know, the guy who founded Infosys or chaired the board that created Aadhaar, the biggest biometric ID system on the planet? Or is it that these ideas, you somehow brought them together and society bought that? That seems like the hard part. I can believe the technology can be done, if you can make it possible. But how do you actually get enough consensus that this flywheel, with all this immense power actually spun up?

Sanjay Purohit [17:50]

One of the books I’ve enjoyed reading the most is “The Sun Also Rises” by Ernest Hemingway. In that book, there is a discussion between two friends. One of them has gone bankrupt, and the other one asked him, “How did you go bankrupt?” And he says, “Gradually, and then suddenly”. And I think that is what we have learned: We need our leaders, social entrepreneurs (we use the term system leaders) to essentially think and try and prototype very simple things, because simple things scale, and get to the essence of what is that pivotal, simple thing that turns the ship on its heel, right? And then, it is the ability to orchestrate the ecosystem to come together.

Many times, people would believe that technology comes first. Our experience is: understanding the interactions. Understanding the networks. We use this term, “nouns and verbs”, all the nouns in this system, all the words that we work with, which are the words that we really want to influence and how and why; and where is the value to the end beneficiary the highest, whether it’s a child, whether it’s the remote village person, whether it’s a farmer, or whether it’s a woman that we are trying to help become an entrepreneur. Whichever be the axis.

I think those capabilities—I’m sure they can’t be taught, but I’m sure they can be learned. What we have tried to do is synthesize it into frameworks. Instead of “only few people who get it will be able to do it”, then we would lose the point. Because if you needed someone like Nandan, how many times would you be able to do this? And then how many countries would you be able to do it? It has to be more a way of doing, rather than, who is doing it. So that has been the quest of the last five years, to build a method, to build a framework, to create design principles, to create the core values, to create frameworks, and work with leaders to help them discover their own essence and their own path, if you will, to apply this thinking. Because there are some fantastic leaders that we meet every day who just need to pause.

And I remember, I was having this conversation with one of our platform colleagues, Neelam Chhiber, who runs Industree Foundation. This is 2017. And we were doing this workshop—she’s very passionate about Creative Million, and she runs this fascinating process called creative dignity. And we were having this discussion about 1 million artisans. And I said, what if we change the number to 100 million? What would happen? And we quickly came to the consensus saying, I don’t know what will happen. I said, that’s the right answer. That is the answer. The moment we accept “I don’t know”, that will open up the entire ecosystem. Because then we will seek out people who know parts of this; we will create a network of people will look for stuff that’s working. We look for what can we generalize, who can we work with, what can the government do. If you say a million, then we will stress the daylights out of us to see how to go from half a million to a million; the moment you say 100 million, you will create a very different game.

Jim Fruchterman [21:42]

I think this is the insight that’s really exciting. Because you know, a lot of people talk about systems change. It’s a very hot topic in philanthropy. But you’re talking about societal level change. And in some ways, that’s an even more sweeping vision. But then you come back and say, at its core, it’s very simple. You just have to figure out what is that magic noun and verb combination that captures the essence of where we have to focus to change the entire society, working on this particular problem.

So, what is the role of Societal Platform? You guys are both making these things happen, or helping create an environment where they’re happening, I’d like to understand a little bit more about what Societal Platform does to enable this to occur, and how does this get repeated in new domains of society’s biggest problems—the SDGs, however you want to frame it.

Sanjay Purohit [22:40]

So, the first thing that we realized was there were a lot of extremely intelligent people who are working on scaling what works. And we would be of no use, because there are people who are doing some fascinating things on how to scale something that’s already working. And so, we said, we will dedicate ourselves to what works at scale.

There were a lot of people who are dedicating themselves to systems change. And, we said, we should learn from that, and dedicate ourselves to what does it take to create sustainable change systems, because we’re dealing with very complex problems—they’re unpredictable, and we’re dealing with extremely large societies. So, the problems will not even be the same by the time you get done. We need a sustainable change system where the system becomes self-healing. That’s where Platform Thinking is useful. That’s one thing that’s useful to work at scale, to create new systems.

And the third thing we said was, there are a lot of people who are working on standardization.

Jim Fruchterman [23:50]

Randomized control trials…

Sanjay Purohit [23:54]

Yeah, many things, right? And we said let’s get this sorted and then let’s go replicate. And I said, we will probably be of no value in replication thinking. We might be better off if we thought about how do you create unified but not uniform systems; systems that embrace diversity, that actually do not believe in replication, but they believe in more diversity. Platforms are useful when you create unified, diverse systems. They are useful when you create something that works at scale, that’s still functional when it is big. Right? Internet is functional when it’s big, and the bigger it gets the more functional it gets, right? It thrives at scale. It doesn’t struggle at scale, it actually gets better and better and better as you scale it because it feeds on scale. So, you design it to feed on scale.

And of course, like you rightly said, you look for the small things. We call it “micro is the new mega”. Call out small things that can change the status quo of the ecosystem, even by a millimeter, but at scale. So change one thing, at scale; then the chain the second thing at scale and change the third thing at scale.

All these things, we packaged it into concepts so that we understand and open our mind to thinking differently into principles with which we can design three things: our infrastructure, physical or digital; our solutions, the problems that we’re trying to solve, finding that simple core interaction; and the networks and the network effects that we need to create amongst the actors in the civil society, government, private sector, etc. right? And then we said, how do we teach this? We had to learn because obviously we are neither consultants nor are we academicians, we are practitioners, we build platforms.

So, we said, let’s choose five themes, which were: lifelong learning, which is education, scaling the continuum of learning in our lives; we chose the second important area as financial inclusion—lending credit saving insurance; we chose preventive health care—access, non-communicable diseases, nutrition; we chose sustainable habitats, which is water, sanitation, urbanization, justice; and we chose emerging livelihoods—micro entrepreneurship, farmers, agriculture, artisans, and so on so forth.

The macro mission of ours was how do we put this knowledge in the service of 3.4 billion people who earn less than $5.50 a day. So that was the whole game plan. And now we’ve been, of course, very early days, we’re still learning, we’re still practicing. We’re working with platforms, and about close to 20 of them are in different stages of flight. I call them paper napkins to 100 million children, right? It’s the entire spectrum. Some things are still ideas, some are hacking, some are prototyping, and so on, so forth.

And then we realized that we have to work with social entrepreneurs and make this into something that they can learn and apply. So, we had a fantastic opportunity with Ashoka Fellows. We partnered with them, we put together a program called ASPIRe. ASPIRe is a program that has been working with 30 social entrepreneurs across the world, in different domains, ranging from prison reforms to dealing with autism to, you know, health and education. We have been working with them—it’s a three-year program, we are at the midpoint now—where we spent the first year, also because of COVID, that we could not meet physically, so completely digitally. Anything that we knew about this thinking we have transferred to them.

Now, in the second phase, where we are working on their code in production, what is that moment that they are designing for? And we have spun up an ecosystem of mentors, technologists, such as you and others, who can actually then work with them and help them design. Of course, you have to raise money, you have to execute. These are long term journeys, sometimes things last 5, 8, 10 years. To change a national level thing could take you a long time. And that’s okay, it’s all right.

That’s been the approach. All the knowledge is Creative Commons and all the software that we build, as a public good, is all open source, MIT licensed. Because the intent is to stay focused on “how do we serve the people that we really want to serve”. So that’s been the evolution. Still, I would say, we’re still crawling, still learning. But yeah, that’s the direction in which it’s going.

Jim Fruchterman [28:59]

So, let’s talk about the ingredients of this. Part of it is spreading the word and bringing attention to this, but obviously there’s the question of both money and talent. So, talk a little bit about those two elements to this puzzle, of how to bring about this kind of societal-level change.

Sanjay Purohit [29:24]

So, in this entire process, we realized that talent—of the nature that we need to do something like this—we will never be able to attract that talent with compensation, because that kind of talent works for stocks. That kind of talent works for becoming a millionaire or a billionaire. But it is possible to attract that talent with inspiration. And if the leader is not thinking big enough, there is no reason for a big talent to follow that.

I think that is a very important element, because to build something that is so scalable that you can serve our society with it, then you need people who can build large scale systems, who have that skill set, who have that vision, who have that architectural capability. Not only for technology—even for the kinds of programs you build, the way you build government relationships. But you can’t attract that quality of talent out of the classical corporate jobs with only a financial [draw], because it’s very hard to match that financial muscle. So it’s important to think about some financial and some inspiration. What’s the combination? How do you do it?

And on the funding side, my experience so far has been that things are changing. People are realizing that (I always use this story) an elephant is not a big mouse and 2000 mice are not an elephant. If you really want an elephant, then you have to make the decision in the embryo that you want to implement. So these things have to be designed that way. Funders are realizing that while they have the aspiration to serve a large number of people, remove poverty, improve gender inclusion, equity, you have to think like that from the beginning.

And so they’re starting to. But what is missing, also, is a counter investment thesis. And that is where I’ve been sort of putting a lot of my head now. For a minute, assume that I learned a lot about Platform Thinking and I have this aspiration. Do I have the ability write an investment thesis that can get me the amount of capital required? Or am I going to go back and write an investment proposal exactly the way I would have written if I knew nothing about Societal Platform? And that is very likely because, many times, we write an investment proposal to meet the needs of the capital rather than to meet the needs of the society.

Jim Fruchterman [31:59]


Sanjay Purohit [32:01]

So how do you break that, is a difficult one.

There are three other things that we need to break. So, one is the talent lock that we have to break. Second is the financing. Three more things. One important thing to break is, “Who am I as a leader?” Because large scale societal transformation happens when the leader is willing to distribute their leadership; is willing to let go of their ego and their brand and their position and become invisible in the system, or I use the term get “assimilated” in the system. That’s not easy. And that’s not for everyone. That has been our experience. That’s hard.

The fourth aspect is, what is the ability of the leadership team to sustain the ownership of the idea. Because a lot of people will come and throw a lot of things, a lot of concepts will come and money will try to change the idea, talent will try to change the idea, policies will try to change the idea… but you have to stay the course. There are a lot of Twilight Zones, as we call them. You have to survive the Twilight Zones, right? That’s when the Dracula comes, the Dracula goes, but you have to survive that period again and again and again. Right? So how do you do that?

And the last one is probably the hardest one: How do you how do you stay ideology agnostic? Because largescale complex systems, if they have to embrace diversity, then they cannot subscribe to one ideology. They have to allow coexistence of many, many, many ways of thinking. And so, if I have a way of saying things, “school should be run like this”, “teachers should be taught like that”, you know, “livelihood should be improved like this”, “water problems should be handled like that”, if I have a very fixed way of [pushing] my theory of change—“my” theory of change—it’s very hard because we are creating a change system which allows people to create change in their context.

Any largescale idea will always have three components to it. There will be things which will be context-independent, like the infrastructure. There will be things that will be context-aware, I mean education and health and water and sanitation, those are the solutions. There will be things which are context-intensive, which is the implementation on the ground. If I’m working in Northern India, it’s very different from working in Southern India or Eastern India or West India. And it’s very different from working in Zimbabwe. It’s very different from working in Alaska. So these will be context-intensive things which will be more and more… the deeper you go into the community, the more real it will start becoming and the more contextual it will start becoming.

The ability of the leader to understand what is context-intensive and what is context-independent is a very important problem to solve. Because all of a sudden, we think that one contextual solution is the solution for everything. And that’s how ideologies abound.

So it’s been a hard learning [experience]—these are the five things that we worry about: risk capital, talent, we worry about ideology, we worry about surviving in the Twilight Zone. And lastly, of course, we also worry about distributed leadership.

Jim Fruchterman [35:17]

It isn’t for the faint of heart, what you’ve just described. Those are big challenges. But I like to think that social entrepreneurs are predisposed towards examining this kind of thinking, because they started off with a vision of going into partnership with communities that they wanted to help, as opposed to assuming that they had the answer and are just going to force it down everyone’s throat—which is a more traditional approach to charity or to governance. But we have, in many cases, financing systems that encourage people to lay claim to a brand and not cooperate with these larger changes.

It’s a difficult dynamic to simultaneously be trying to raise money in an environment that lionizes the single social entrepreneur hero when, in practice, that’s actually not what changes society at all. It’s just fundamentally incompatible. So, how do we overcome, as you call them, the pressures, the Twilight Zones that will pull us off of our true north, which is large scale social change, and the credit is distributed across everyone who works towards that goal?

Are there any final thoughts that you want to add before we before we wrap this up, because if we went over something that you wanted to capture, I would love to get any other nuggets that you want to share with our audience.

Sanjay Purohit [36:59]

My submission to all the people who listen to this is: Explore this thinking and explore it with the with the construct of what can it add to what you’re already thinking rather than as a rip and replace.

I’m sure you as a senior technologist will say that it’s not always rip and replace. Sometimes you firewall what you have and you create something around it, because there is value in what you have, but it doesn’t mean that you only try to beat the daylights out of what you have.

That is the one thought that I would certainly want to share. If there’s anything that I should be learning, that our team should be working on, please, guide us, help us learn. Because the problem of 3.4 billion people, which by latest statistics may have gone up by 400 million more people going to the pandemic, is not going to get solved by anyone alone. And that’s why we always say this is the challenge that we’re working with: How do you solve together at scale? That is our passion—together at scale.

Jim Fruchterman [38:25]

Well, I very much appreciate an extremely ambitious vision that is grounded in, in some ways, humility about what the power of any one group or one any one leader is. And yet, if more people engage at this kind of level we’ll have a hope of meeting the needs the Sustainable Development Goals and climate change. We need something dramatic, and business as usual is not delivering it.

Every week, I talk to people who are in the tech industry who are disillusioned by their job, by what they do. They want to work on these important problems, but they don’t have a path. And I think you’ve outlined a path, and I call it “moving from money to meaning”. We don’t have to change every tech person’s attitude towards money, but there are far more people who would like to deploy their talents to supporting these kinds of visions and empowering the part of humanity that the tech industry has generally ignored, by and large.

Thank you very much. Sanjay Purohit, Chief Curator of Societal Platform, I really want to thank you for an extremely enlightening vision of how you approach change, and I know you’ll inspire some new social entrepreneurs to aim much higher as a result. Thank you very much.

Sanjay Purohit [39:57]

Thank you so much, Jim, for having me. I’m very excited and look forward to learning more with you.

Jim Fruchterman [40:08]

You can find Sanjay on Twitter @SanjayPurohitM. And you can learn more about Societal Platform at societalplatform.org. For more interviews, check out the Tech Matters podcast on Spotify and Apple Podcasts or go to techmatters.org to see what else we’re up to.

This podcast is funded by the generous donors of Tech Matters, especially Okta For Good. Thanks, and see you next time!



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Tech Matters Podcast

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