Community & Government

Think, Test, Do: A Research Framework

Melinda French Gates

Lesson time 14:04 min

Melinda lays out a framework that will help you in researching and activating your giving endeavors.

Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

Topics include: Research Is a Continuous Process• Examine What Hasn't Worked• Think, Test, Do• Think, Test, Do In Action at Pivotal• Apply Think, Test, Do in Your Own Giving


[MUSIC PLAYING] MELINDA GATES: As a giver, I almost always start with research. Research really helps you understand how you might tackle a problem. And you can do research in all kinds of ways. You can go online and do research. That's become much easier in the last 10 years. You can go to your local library and do research. You can talk to partner organizations who are out in the field. But research helps you know, hmm, what are places I might give to, or how might I go about tackling this particular issue? [MUSIC PLAYING] I think of research as a very continuous process. So I definitely think you should do some research, or what I call homework, up front. But then as you go, continuing to research, because what will happen with your curiosity is if you get in a particular topic area that you're interested in, and maybe you're volunteering your time, or you're putting some money down, other questions will come to you. And so you'll say, oh wait, what was the other issue I needed to go research? That person said that about this issue. Let me go there and do some research on that issue. I want to understand that better. One thing I learned in the field early on that somebody I admired said who'd been in global health for a long time, is he said, certainty is the death of a foundation. And that really struck me, because if you're certain about what you're doing, it means you're not curious. And you need to stay curious. You may be on a path, but don't be certain. Be open and curious. [MUSIC PLAYING] Well, I think research helps you know this is what's been tried in the past, and actually didn't work. It's just as important to know what's been tried and didn't work, versus what are we trying now that might have a chance of working. And sometimes, there's a phase of research where you're not just reading about something, but you're actually making donations for a while and getting feedback about whether what you're doing works. So often, you don't get things right the first time. And you have to know that. You might have the right idea, but there's a lot that you will have to learn to really affect change. [MUSIC PLAYING] At Pivotal, we use a model called Think, Test, Do to drive sustainable impact. In the Think Phase, which is the first phase, we take different approaches to strategy creation. We're trying to understand the problem, identify potential partners and funders in a space, and then we do things like convening subject matter experts, conduct extensive research, and we listen to experiences of those who are going to be most impacted. In the second phase that we call the Test Phase, we usually take about two to three years to test out our strategy and hypotheses. During that time, we capture key learnings, and we refine our approach. And then finally, there's the Do Phase. This is where we move forward with the refined approach for about five years. During that time, we're anchori...

About the Instructor

One of the greatest philanthropists in history, Melinda French Gates has dedicated her life to giving back to the world. Now she’s teaching how you can identify your own unique assets—time, money, specific skills, or even your voice to discover a strategic path that can turn your power into progress.

Featured Masterclass Instructor

Melinda French Gates

A philanthropist and advocate for women and girls, Melinda French Gates teaches you how to take what you’re good at and use it to create change.

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