Graduation season is approaching, and many students will soon be back in the public sector where they’ll have the opportunity to make meaningful change. I sat down with Harvard Kennedy School Lecturer Nick Sinai, former White House Deputy Chief Technology Officer, for a conversation about what it takes to create real innovation in the public sector.
The drive for evidence-based decision-making and the need for innovation in government have rapidly accelerated in recent years. Despite overlapping goals, it is not always clear how closely the two agendas are aligned. Is the creation of more and better evidence leading to more innovation? And fundamentally, is all this activity leading to better decision-making in government?
Blockchain is the new policymaking frontier — we said that in the fall. Today, it seems truer than ever. China may soon have the first government-backed digital money. Dubai is building a “city on a blockchain.” The Republic of Georgia is now securing land titles on blockchain. Malta is on top of it too — the island country is exploring a national health registry built on blockchain. Sure... Read More
If you were a small country with a population of 1.26 million, a former republic of the Soviet Union, how would you drive your country’s future? That was the question Estonia faced in 1991. The answer it chose was technological revolution. When Estonia became independent after the fall of the Soviet Union, less than half the country had a telephone line. Its infrastructure dated back to... Read More
The Chilean government’s innovation lab — Laboratorio de Gobierno, or “LabGob” for short — was formally established in 2015. Since then, it has worked with thousands of civil servants and citizens in Chile, using an iterative, human-centered design approach to tackle problems in health care, energy, and more. Emily Middleton spoke to its founding Executive Director, Juan Felipe López... Read More
Governments are calling for innovation and data-driven development policy at diplomatic tables. In September 2015, 193 UN member governments adopted the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development, in which are the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that will guide the global development pathway for the next 15 years. High representatives from governments will meet at the UN Headquarters... Read More
I fail much faster than I succeed. And by most people’s measures, I fail. A lot. But I succeed even more. As a serial civic innovator, I have learned from my own experiences and my peers that the key ingredients of being a great innovator are the willingness to fail, to fail smart, to fail often, to fail fast, and to fail forward. Learning how to be a better failure will unlock your... Read More
In 1979, China glanced into America’s creative soul. President Nixon had invited a Chinese delegation to see the happenings of Silicon Valley. The delegation’s leader, Chen Chunxian, a member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, was blown away by what he saw. And how could he not be? What a spectacle it must have been, seeing giants in their emerging moments. Apple had just prototyped the... Read More
Whenever talking about governments in China, it's quite easy for friends from western leading democracies to think of words like "undemocratic" or "totalitarian." Indeed, I cannot argue these tags are absolutely wrong. However, as a Chinese student having worked in local governance innovation, especially in the education arena, I witnessed the vibrant reforms happening in many local... Read More
Last week, the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard Kennedy School celebrated the conclusion of a two-year search and evaluation process to name the winner of the $100,000 Roy and Lila Ash Innovations Award in Public Engagement in Government. For the past two years, in commemoration of the tenth anniversary of the founding of the Ash Center, the center has hosted... Read More
Each day, throughout the world, public officials and practitioners face the daunting task of creating solutions to society's most pressing problems, as they strive to improve the lives of their citizens. These dedicated public servants are under pressure to do more with increasingly limited resources, and to be more effective and efficient. Repeatedly, history has shown that continuing to... Read More