What do government programs reducing chronic malnutrition in Madagascar, boosting innovation in Asia, and increasing enrollment for food stamps in the United States have in common? While working at the World Bank Innovation Lab, I saw policymakers around the world searching for innovative solutions to complex problems affecting their constituencies, and how “design thinking” — a... Read More
Over the past 20 years, increasing momentum has been gathering behind the idea that governments need to apply scientific standards of proof to making decisions about policy. The drive towards evidence-based policymaking is a drive towards a rationalist dream: that hard evidence can remove partisan wrangling from the equation and, instead, turn policymaking into a scientific process,... Read More
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?
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
In working towards the Sustainable Development Goals, the Bangladesh government has embraced the idea of “govprenuership” — entrepreneurship by the government — which allowed for collaboration with organizations and parties that were working on some of the same issues with which the government was actively engaged. One result of this collaborative effort was the a2i Public Service... 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
When you think of human-centered design, you may not immediately think of the US federal government utilizing such a progressive approach, but it is starting to take hold. Human-centered design is the process of improving the delivery of services or a product by focusing on the needs of the customer. Problem-solving is therefore approached from the point of view of the users. Human-... 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