Ownership and Innovation

Rich Harwood, president of the Harwood Institute, favors a way of thinking about “public innovation” that goes deeper than technological upgrades or civic feedback mechanisms:

Even when talk turns to innovation regarding community goals, as it has in Rochester, the tendency among community leaders, funders, activists and others is to focus on specific education reforms, local tax policy or perhaps infrastructure plans. Other conversations about innovation often center on the use of mobile devices, development of new online platforms or the launch of new citizen-participation processes.

All are potentially important. Each is possibly necessary. But, I believe, they miss a larger point.

When the public-radio hosts asked me to define public innovation, I said that it is about how we choose to see what is around us in a community and to make choices and judgments about how to move forward. In other words, public innovation isn’t necessarily about something shiny or new or complex but about something that works better, leads to better results and creates a better pathway forward. It is about how communities generate and re-generate themselves.

Read Harwood’s take on innovation at Governing here.

Contributor: Benjamin Peterson, Pepperdine School of Public Policy, MPP Candidate ’15

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