Feature

Put the Brand First

On June 1, former Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz became the next head of the World Bank. His mission: to end global poverty. The trouble is, few agree on how to go about it. So Foreign Policy asked five of the world’s leading development experts to offer Wolfowitz some free advice on getting the job done.

The proper role and function of the World Bank continues to be questioned, even after 60 years of existence. Paul Wolfowitzs main challenge will be to establish the banks mission clearly. Hand in hand with the mission of the bank is its brand, the external perception of the banks role, as well as the banks internal culture. To develop an integrated, unique, viable, and sustainable missionand to correspondingly align the brand and internal cultureis Wolfowitzs biggest challenge at a time when the mission is in dispute, the brand is in doubt, and the culture is amorphous.

I would offer a second piece of advice for Wolfowitz. The bank has made important strides in recent decades in aligning itself with the United Nations Millennium Development Goals and in focusing on the fight against poverty. Over the same period of time, the bank introduced some innovative lending instruments to facilitate cross-sectional approaches and increase the focus on outcomes, together with country ownership and accountability for projects. Whereas the inherent structure of the bank constrains rapid innovation, you should reinvigorate the banks commitment to exploring innovative approaches. Its what the bank needs most.

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The proper role and function of the World Bank continues to be questioned, even after 60 years of existence. Paul Wolfowitzs main challenge will be to establish the banks mission clearly. Hand in hand with the mission of the bank is its brand, the external perception of the banks role, as well as the banks internal culture. To develop an integrated, unique, viable, and sustainable missionand to correspondingly align the brand and internal cultureis Wolfowitzs biggest challenge at a time when the mission is in dispute, the brand is in doubt, and the culture is amorphous.

I would offer a second piece of advice for Wolfowitz. The bank has made important strides in recent decades in aligning itself with the United Nations Millennium Development Goals and in focusing on the fight against poverty. Over the same period of time, the bank introduced some innovative lending instruments to facilitate cross-sectional approaches and increase the focus on outcomes, together with country ownership and accountability for projects. Whereas the inherent structure of the bank constrains rapid innovation, you should reinvigorate the banks commitment to exploring innovative approaches. Its what the bank needs most.

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Klaus Schwab is the founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum.

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