OLPC: Please Pick a Mission Statement and Stick with It

   
   
   
   
   

Back many moons ago, Nicholas Negroponte had a crazy idea that became the One Laptop Per Child organization with this bold, even revolutionary mission:

OLPC is not at heart a technology program and the XO is not a product in any conventional sense of the word. We are non-profit: constructionism is our goal; XO is our means of getting there. It is a very cool, even revolutionary machine, and we are very proud of it. But we would also be delighted if someone built something better, and at a lower price.

My thoughts exactly

Over time, the mission has changed, at least twice, or thrice. It seems we now have a fourth mission for One Laptop Per Child, as stated in its December press release:

One Laptop per Child is a non-profit organization created by Nicholas Negroponte and others from the MIT Media Lab to design, manufacture and distribute laptop computers that are inexpensive enough to provide every child in the world access to knowledge and modern forms of education.

But wait! We also have the choice of two more mission statements from the OLPC website. First, here's the mission from the vision page:

Mission Statement: To create educational opportunities for the world's poorest children by providing each child with a rugged, low-cost, low-power, connected laptop with content and software designed for collaborative, joyful, self-empowered learning. When children have access to this type of tool they get engaged in their own education. They learn, share, create, and collaborate. They become connected to each other, to the world and to a brighter future.

Thankfully, that seems a bit more education focused than the press release description of OLPC. And its sure shorter than the mission statement on the actual mission page of the OLPC website:

OLPC's mission is to provide a means for learning, self-expression, and exploration to the nearly two billion children of the developing world with little or no access to education. While children are by nature eager for knowledge, many countries have insufficient resources to devote to education--sometimes less than $20 per year per child (compared to an average of $7,500 in the United States). By giving children their very own connected XO laptop, we are giving them a window to the outside world, access to vast amounts of information, a way to connect with each other, and a springboard into their future. And we're also helping these countries develop an essential resource - educated, empowered children.

So now we have at least two, if not three current mission statements, plus at least three previous mission statements. Which is telling. If you can't articulate a single, unified mission statement, and stick to it, how are you ever going to achieve it?

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6 Comments

What if they can't tell you what the *REAL* objective is? (to sell as many "copies" as possible of this cheapo laptop-wannabe to poor, ignorant banana republics like Peru and Uruguay, where corrupt politicians sell the people's future for a few dollars)

...eg, they are in for the money...

Uruguay is a middle income country (greater per capita income than Brazil) ranked as a full democracy (Freedom House), with universal literacy, a very sucessful education system, and relatively little corruption (less than Spain, Portugal, or Costa Rica, according to Transparency International). I hardly think it qualifies as a "poor, ignorant banana republic."

But Mark, Irv/Me definitely qualifies as a banana republic

A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.--Ralph Waldo Emerson

There are trivial truths and great truths. The opposite of a trivial truth is plainly false. The opposite of a great truth is also true.--Niels Bohr

i don't see the connection between the 'December press release' inked to Business Wire and the olpc org. mission.
is the olpc org. the source or publisher of the article? Or does negroponte own the business wire?
am i blind?

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