Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative Launches Mayoral Program

The Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative has launched the pilot of its year-long Mayors Program on City Leadership.  Program Faculty Director Jorrit de Jong of the HKS MLD Area says, “We have a great cohort of 40 mayors who are excited about the opportunities we are offering them and have high expectations. This year will be a pilot year and we put systems in place to enable rapid learning, in depth evaluation as well as ongoing impact assessment.”  In the course of this year-long program, mayors will be asked to identify a single priority to apply their learning to: a problem to be solved in the city, an opportunity to realize, or an organizational capability to improve.

Harvard's Jorrit de DeJong addresses city mayors
“Local government is close to the people. Mayors are most immediately held accountable when something goes wrong,” said Harvard Kennedy School Lecturer Jorrit de Jong, the initiative’s faculty director. © Bloomberg Philanthropies

For example, a mayor may choose to make her approach to reduce homelessness more data-driven, run experiments in the city’s effort to reduce obesity, or create a multi-sector approach to creating jobs. The priority may also pertain to organizational development: strengthen teaming efforts across city hall, engage front-line staff in innovation, or introduce a new performance leadership strategy. In the closing session later this year mayors will reflect on what they learned and how they would like to apply that going forward.  A subsequent program for the mayors’ senior staff will build on this innovation priority and will zoom in on the challenges of making change and delivering on the mayor’s agenda. BHCLI will follow up with several supports, including HBX Live sessions on topics that are most relevant and helpful to the greatest number of mayors, and bespoke assistance in the form of research, coaching or regional or thematic workshops.

After the Mayors Program, mayors will meet with the senior staff participating in the Senior Staff program and discuss their innovation priority. As the Senior Staff program focuses on making organizational change and strategy within and across organizational boundaries, program faculty will learn where the cities are coming from and what they are working on. Participating mayors and their staffs will benefit from this model by anchoring their learning in – and applying it to – concrete challenges in their work. Finally, the priority serves as a reference point for faculty follow ups and impact assessment. Our hope and expectation is that cities will be working on an innovation priority of their choice during their year-long engagement with the City Leadership Program.

For further details on the program launch, also read the Harvard Gazette article linked here.

Dealing with Dysfunction: Innovative Problem Solving in the Public Sector – A Book Talk with author Jorrit de Jong – April 12, 2017

Join us for a discussion on April 12th with Jorrit de Jong, Lecturer in Public Policy and Management at HKS, Faculty Director of the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative, and author of “Dealing with Dysfunction: Innovative Problem Solving in the Public Sector” (Brookings University Press).
Julie Boatright Wilson, Harry Kahn Senior Lecturer in Social Policy, HKS, and Matt R. Andrews, Senior Lecturer in Public Policy, HKS, will provide responses. Tony Saich, director of the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation and Daewoo Professor of International Affairs, will moderate. Book cover of Dealing with Dysfunction by Jorrit de Jong

About Dealing with Dysfunction

How can we intervene in the systemic bureaucratic dysfunction that beleaguers the public sector? De Jong examines the roots of this dysfunction and presents a novel approach to solving it. Drawing from academic literature on bureaucracy and problem solving in the public sector, and the clinical work of the Kafka Brigade — a social enterprise based in the Netherlands dedicated to diagnosing and remedying bureaucratic dysfunction in practice, this study reveals the shortcomings of conventional approaches to bureaucratic reform. The usual methods have failed to diagnose problems, distinguish symptoms, or identify root causes in a comprehensive or satisfactory way. They have also failed to engage clients, professionals, and midlevel managers in understanding and addressing the dysfunction that plagues them. This book offers conceptual frameworks, theoretical insights, and practical lessons for dealing with the problem. It sets a course for rigorous public problem solving to create governments that can be more effective, efficient, equitable, and responsive to social concerns.

De Jong argues that successfully remedying bureaucratic dysfunction depends on employing diagnostics capable of distinguishing and dissecting various kinds of dysfunction. The “Anna Karenina principle” applies here: all well-functioning bureaucracies are alike; every dysfunctional bureaucracy is dysfunctional in its own way. The author also asserts that the worst dysfunction occurs when multiple organizations share responsibility for a problem, but no single organization is primarily responsible for solving it. This points to a need for creating and reinforcing distributed problem-solving capacity focused on deep (cross-)organizational learning and revised accountability structures. Our best approach to dealing with dysfunction may therefore not be top-down regulatory reform, but rather relentless bottom-up and cross-boundary leadership and innovation. Using fourteen clinical cases of bureaucratic dysfunction investigated by the Kafka Brigade, the author demonstrates how a proper process for identifying, defining, diagnosing, and remedying the problem can produce better outcomes.

Date:

Wednesday, April 12, 2017, 4:15pm to 5:30pm

Location:

Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation, Suite 200N, 124 Mt Auburn Street, Cambridge

2016 Ash Innovations Applications Open

The Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the Harvard Kennedy School has kicked off the application process for its prestigious Innovations in American Government Award.  For the second straight year, the Ash Center is also funding a second innovation award, the Roy and Lila Ash Innovations Award for Public Engagement in Government, to better highlight the work of public engagement and participation programs, policies, and initiatives from around the country.

The Innovations in American Government Awards are heralded as the premier public-sector honor in the nation and are given to programs that serve as examples of creative and effective government at its best. The Ash Center will once again be awarding two $100,000 top prizes, for the Innovations in American Government Award and the Roy and Lila Ash Innovations Award for Public Engagement in Government. All units of government—federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial—within the United States and their partners are eligible to apply.
Applicants for both awards will be judged on the standard Innovations in American Government Awards criteria of novelty, effectiveness, significance, and transferability. Programs seeking the Roy and Lila Ash award will also be judged on their impact on public engagement and participation. Specifically, the Ash Center seeks to recognize government-led innovations that demonstrate enhanced public engagement and participation.  Find out more here.  Application deadline is April 15, 2016.