Giving Compass’ Take:
• The Centre for Public Impact recently released How to Fail (Forward): A Framework for Fostering Innovation in the Public Sector, to help local government embrace mistakes and failure to better innovate.
• How can private sector collaboration with local governments help facilitate innovation in local communities? How can donors take the same lessons about failure into account?
• Read more about the municipal innovation movement and the future of a successful local government.
Imagine if, with the coronavirus tearing through our country and demands for racial justice ringing in our ears, we could not use the word “failure.” Imagine if we looked at what is happening before our eyes, in our streets, and in our families and said, “There is zero tolerance for failure in my community.” How could we ever begin to fix what is broken if we couldn’t be honest about the brokenness in the first place?
A version of that crushing cognitive dissonance happens all the time in local government. People who work in local government say, over and over, on public panels and in private workshops, “Government can’t afford to fail,” or, “There is zero tolerance for failure in local government.” But at the same time, people who work in local government and people who depend on local government services know that government fails in small and large ways, from busted water fountains in public parks to squandered economic development efforts to police violence. Government failure has been a punchline (and punching bag) for decades, but the ethos of “no failure allowed” persists. The result is that big failures in the status quo get shrugged off until there is a catastrophic eruption, while small but high profile failures in the name of innovation get exposed and denigrated.
It’s time to break that cycle, and be honest about failure in local government. Innovation depends on failure, and improvement depends on recognizing failure. Today, along with our friends and collaborators at the Centre for Public Impact, we are releasing, How to Fail (Forward): A Framework for Fostering Innovation in the Public Sector. The report delves deeply into how to acknowledge public sector failures and create a culture that enables governments to learn from mistakes and create better services and experiences for residents and government employees themselves.
Read the full article about failure in local government by Jennifer Bradley and Center for Urban Innovation at The Aspen Institute.
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