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Reflection 2020: SpeedSolving Our Cubes, Together

Ernő Rubik invented the Rubik’s Cube in 1974. This cube-shaped puzzle is a clever assembly of 27 small cubes and stickers of 6 colours. The core objective of this puzzle is to align stickers of the same colour on each of the 6 faces of the cube. It has 1 right and 43,252,003,274,489,856,000 wrong combinations. Yet, millions of people get it right. Some may take more time, some may need more help, some may need to learn from others. But it is possible to solve the cube.

We are 7.7 billion people on Planet Earth. Each of us, a Rubik’s cube with at least 6 colours: education, healthcare, livelihood, climate, equity, and justice. Our objective, across 195 countries, and the states, towns and villages they are made of, is to align the 6 faces of each cube, and do this first for the most vulnerable of us. As the domino effects of the pandemic rapidly undoes the progress of the past decade, is it time to come together for SpeedCubing, at scale?

SpeedCubing aims to solve Rubik’s Cubes quickly. This was dying till online SpeedCubing became possible, enabling many new methods to solve. It trained more people to solve by themselves for the first time. This new generation of SpeedSolvers has rapidly catalysed a global community. If we want to SpeedCube our societal challenges, at scale, then we may need to invest in three building blocks of our society: 1. System Leaders who orchestrate SpeedSolvers 2. SpeedSolvers who exercise their agency and 3. Platform builders who unleash our ability to solve.

Over 2020…

..we learned system leadership from the team at EkStep Foundation, a Societal Platform focused on education. In stride with the government and partners, their SpeedSolvers, they energised a locked down school system to deliver education to more than 200 million children across India.

..we learned about the resolve of system leaders with a cohort of 30 Ashoka Fellows who are braving through the pandemic. Between July and December, we unpacked Societal Platform Thinking together, and embarked on a journey to reimagine societal missions in their emerging contexts.

..we learned about enabling large scale societal participation from Project ECHO, a Societal Platform focused on healthcare. Team ECHO, through their network of hubs and spokes, enabled 600,000 healthcare workers globally with knowledge to handle the pandemic induced exigencies.

..we learned how an open digital infrastructure can energise a system at scale. eGov Foundation, a Societal Platform for urban transformation, rapidly repurposed DIGIT to mobilise millions of citizens during lockdowns. Then they repurposed it again for home quarantine management at scale.

As 2021 unfolds, we are staring at an opportunity. An opportunity to SpeedCube our societal challenges, at scale, with SpeedSolvers across government, civil society and business. An opportunity to improve the resilience of our systems of education, healthcare, livelihood, climate, equity, and justice. An opportunity to rethink our approach to achieve the SDGs by 2030 in spite of the ground lost in 2020.

We, at Societal Platform, are committed to bring our best to the table. We are committed to co-create the future with our System Leaders, our SpeedSolvers and our Platform Builders. We are ready for 2021.

Wishing you and your loved ones a Happy 2021!
Sanjay & Team Societal Platform

This article is penned by Sanjay Purohit. Sanjay is the Chief Curator of Societal Platform at EkStep Foundation.

*Image attribution: Photo by Robert Anasch on Unsplash.