GovLab’s work on measuring innovative and entrepreneurial skills within the public sector starts from the hypothesis that government can do a better job of eradicating poverty and inequality, slowing economic fluctuations and climate change, and improving security, literacy and wellness if public officials know how and when to leverage new creative, technological and data-informed tools and methods (“innovative skills”) to more effectively and efficiently define problems and develop implementable solutions.
Those innovative problem solving skills include six basic competencies: 1) knowing how to define an actionable problem (problem-definition), 2) working with the people affected by a problem to understand the problem and its causes (human-centered design), 3) knowing how to leverage social science research to design experiments that change behavior (behavioral insights), 4) understanding how to formulate a hypothesis, identify and use data to undertake evidence-based ways of working (data analytical thinking), 5) tapping collective intelligence to understand the problem and develop solutions (open innovation) and 6) having the know how to accelerate the completion of a project from idea to implementation (lean-agile methods).
GovLab Director Beth Simone Noveck was recently announced as one of four inaugural International City/County Management Association Local Government Research Fellows. Her research project, titled “Promoting Local Leaders’ Innovation, Learning, and Effective Problem-Solving”, focuses on identifying and analyzing the skill gaps of local leaders’ use of innovative methods to solve problems using new technology.
Specifically, she is conducting nationwide mixed-methods research in order to understand the current and desired level of knowledge of the aforementioned six (and other) innovative skills as well as the learning practices of local public officials in the United States. The goal of this research is to understand the current problem-solving skillset among local officials and inform the creation of new skills training programs for local officials that respond to people’s needs and that, in turn, might make public officials more effective at solving public problems.