Getting the most out of the CfA Fellowship


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Session with Nigel Jacob, Co-Director of the Mayor's Office of New Urban Mechanics in Boston (and 2011 CfA city partner), on how cities can best take advantage of their Code for America Fellowship year.

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  • Mention the fact that Jeff / Story will be on the next webinar
  • Taking a human centered approach to innovation and moving beyond the “business of government” mode of innovation
  • Mention the fact that Jeff / Story will be on the next webinar
  • Getting the most out of the CfA Fellowship

    1. 1. Getting Ready for Code For America Collaborative Innovation in the Local Gov
    2. 2. Who are we ? Chris Osgood Jeff Friedman Co-Chair, Boston Co-Chair, Philadelphia @newurbanmechs @urbanmechanics Nigel Jacob Story Bellows Co-Chair, Boston Co-Chair, Philadelphia @nsjacob @urbanmechanics
    3. 3. What are we going to talk about ? Our thoughts and approach to…. 1 Enabling innovation in local government 2 Partnering effectively with CFA
    4. 4. Cutting to the Chase 1 Create a Space for Innovation 2 Focus on People’s Needs 3 Engage Partners to Manage Risk and Increase Resources 4 Pilot quickly 5 Manage like a Product
    5. 5. What is the point of innovation? “Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody” - Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities
    6. 6. Innovation requires risk 1 Increasingly, local government officials are being tasked with innovating 2 They are also being tasked with being fiscally conservative with tax dollars 3 This isn’t a good recipe for sustainable innovation
    7. 7. Managing risk in local government 1 The standard local gov approach to managing risk is bureaucracy 2 Managing risk requires understanding where people think the risk is as well as understanding where it actually is 3 Risk is often understood from the perspective of failure: what happens if we fail? 4 Thus, we need a model to manage risk that takes these issues into account
    8. 8. Our approach: Lean Startup adapted to local gov SOURCE SUPPORT & SCALE & IDEAS Study SHARE PROJECTSGoal: Identify Goal: Pilot high potential Goal: Scale mostentrepreneurs inside and ideas with maximum effective pilots and shareoutside government with public impact and findings and projectsoriginal ideas for City minimal public cost with other citiesservice delivery
    9. 9. There are two sides to this equation… 1 Internal: encouraging a Culture of Innovation - adopting a Human Centered approach to developing tools and technology - developing a methodology that works for your organization: the NUM funnel - resourcing innovation: allocating people with the right skills, perspectives and/or authority to support innovation - exploration vs integration - The importance of leadership 2 External: Creating a front-door for Civic Innovators - Partnerships are critical to developing new approaches: CFA, startups, universities, community groups, non profits, foundations, etc - Create a safe place to innovate - Sharing risk (and leveraging opportunities) across cities can be powerful
    10. 10. Pause Questions?
    11. 11. The Five Challenges 1 Finding a partnership model that works 2 Deciding what to build 3 Managing Team Dynamics 4 Collaborating Remotely 5 Delivering the products
    12. 12. Finding a partnership model that works 1 Work-for-hire Contractor-client model. Perhaps non-intuitively, this can be bad. It means that you’re being held at arm’s length and probably have limited access to people and systems. 2 R&D Lab A protected space where interesting projects/products are developed. A problem here can be in rolling out the work products to production/operations. 3 The A-team A “special team” with “special abilities”. This can certainly work, but can also alienate city operations staff without such “special powers”. Not really sustainable as a model of system-change. 4 Collaborators A true partnership in which the CFA team and the City team are working together to set direction, resolve problems, etc.
    13. 13. Deciding what to build 1 The Problem is not always The Problem It’s important to keep a open mind when going into the projects and to really listen to what the issues are. Sometimes where we start is not the real problem. In order to solve a high value problem, the fellows will need time/space to explore. It’s useful to think in terms of the problem as a design brief. 2 Show and Tell An important aspect to the project will be how well and quickly the ideas can be mocked up or prototyped. This is often the only real way to make sure that everyone is on-board with the proposed solutions. Rapid prototyping is also fairly uncommon to local government so finding a. 3 Find the Product Manager and not just the Project Manager Find the person on the City side who will be able to think critically about the products and advocate on behalf of the users of the system. This can be tough.
    14. 14. Managing Team Dynamics 1 Leadership Matters Finding a key person from the team who can be the main point of contact and/or face of the team can be important in facilitating communication and building credibility. 2 Adapt to your partner Local gov often don’t have much experience with agile project management, so it’s important to take a hybrid approach that makes both partners comfortable. For example, this could mean having two schedules, one for the CFA team (internal) and one for the city partners. 3 Find Group-hug moments Developing and nurturing a partnership of this sort can be tricky, so finding ways that the CFA-City team can bond is important. These projects have a high chance of culture clash, so finding ways to speak the same language or to have shared experiences is a good idea. For example, the Boston CFA fellows spent a day fielding constituent calls in the Mayor’s 24-Hr Call Center.
    15. 15. Collaborating Remotely 1 Regular Updates to your partners This might seem obvious, but making sure to give your partners regular updates will avoid an out-sight-out-of-mind scenario. 2 Responsiveness is a (the?!) virtue Making sure to respond quickly to any questions, requests, etc from your partners will build their confidence in you. 3 Team building can be tough Either side of the CFA-City team may encounter inter-personal issues. It’s important try and work through issues together. The City folk may often have lots of experience and can help the fellows as an “outsider”.
    16. 16. Delivering the products 1 Talking points are key deliverables! The ability for your City partners to speak intelligently about what you’re working on to the Mayor (or pick your municipal executive) is critical for maintaining political support for the project, so make sure you have good, punch talking point ready for each new milestone. 2 Hand-off of the projects can be tricky You need to be thinking about how to help your partners think through how to pick up the projects once CFA leaves. 3 Figure out sustainability together Figuring out how to keep each project/product going will be critical, but it’s not enough to say “how will you manage this service after we leave”, you’ll need to engage in a dialogue with your partners, something like, ”we have some thoughts as to how to keep the projects going after we leave, can we talk?” 4 Culture Change is the ultimate deliverable More than any particular technology you deploy or product you develop with your partners, the ultimate goal should be changing the way that municipal agencies think about innovation and technology, so try to find ways to make lasting cultural tweaks
    17. 17. We want to help! Chris Osgood Jeff Friedman Co-Chair, Boston Co-Chair, Philadelphia @newurbanmechs @urbanmechs Nigel Jacob Story Bellows Co-Chair, Boston Co-Chair, Philadelphia @nsjacob @urbanmechs