Mayors and cities are uniquely positioned to drive bold solutions to complex challenges.
Bloomberg Philanthropies has tested the Innovation Delivery approach through a multi-year investment in five cities i-teams, with great results. The mayors of all five pioneer cities have seen the value of Innovation Delivery and are investing public dollars to sustain their i-teams when their grants end. Fourteen additional cities joined the program in 2014.
Using the Innovation Delivery approach, i-teams conduct deep analyses to assess local conditions, develop innovative, responsive solutions, and relentlessly measure progress against clear goals.
From city halls to public agency front lines, governments are thinking more and more about how to create innovative solutions to their most pressing problems. It makes sense given the challenges governments face – dwindling budgets, increased citizen expectations, morphing societal needs. But there’s something beyond that happening, too. Government officials at every level are increasingly thinking of innovation as a process. And, increasingly, as an essential capability they wouldn’t want to govern without. The emergence of innovation teams (i-teams) around the world has responded to this growing demand.
Innovation Delivery is Bloomberg Philanthropies’ tested, successful approach for bringing innovation to city challenges. It leverages best-in-class idea generation techniques and a structured, data-driven approach to delivering results. Mayors have effectively used this approach with their i-teams on issues as diverse as murder reduction, economic development, and customer service.
APPLYING THE BLOOMBERG PHILANTHROPIES APPROACH TO DRIVE INNOVATION IN CITIES
Innovation Teams – New Orleans
THE IMPERATIVE FOR INNOVATION
Cities are uniquely able to innovate and transform citizens’ lives, but face many barriers to developing and implementing solutions to tough challenges. City governments are not always organized to support innovation, especially when it comes to addressing “horizontal” issues—such as poverty reduction, sustainability, or customer service—that are the shared responsibility of multiple departments and chains of command. The absence of standard management and engagement strategies to overcome department silos makes it harder for leaders to define, deliver, and sustain solutions to these complex and multifaceted challenges.
Further, many mayors’ offices lack the human capital, organizational capacity, or financial resources to take on bold ideas or grand challenges. A tension exists between “putting out fires” and managing day-to-day responsibilities and finding the time and space needed to think, plan, and launch new solutions. There are few incentives within bureaucracies to experiment and try new things—but there are plenty of motivations to maintain the status quo or settle for incremental change. New programs that fail tend to attract more attention than those that succeed. And when it comes to innovation, there will inevitably be efforts that do not work as planned.
The i-teams program was created to provide cities with a method to address these barriers and deliver change more effectively to their citizens. Using Bloomberg Philanthropies’ tested, successful Innovation Delivery approach, i-teams greatly reduce the risks associated with innovation, and provide mayors with assurance in their ability to develop and implement effective solutions to their highest-priority problems.
Innovation Teams – Memphis
INNOVATION TEAMS SOLVE INTRACTABLE PROBLEMS BY BRINGING INNOVATION TO LIFE
Mayors’ offices around the world are increasingly experimenting with new innovation models to help them solve intractable problems and serve their citizens better. Innovation Teams are one strategy for bringing innovation to city challenges. Using Bloomberg Philanthropies’ tested, successful Innovation Delivery approach, i-teams combine best-in-class idea generation techniques with a structured, data-driven method for delivering results. Mayors have effectively used this approach with their i-teams on issues as diverse as murder reduction, economic development, and customer service.
Innovation Teams are based in city hall and report to the mayor. The i-team members serve as in-house consultants, using the Innovation Delivery approach to help the mayor and other partners solve the city’s biggest challenges. First, the i-team and its partners investigate the problem by gathering information and data and researching how the problem affects other cities. The goal of this phase is to break down a problem into challenges, and to carefully asses the causes of each challenge. Second, the i-team assesses possible solutions by leading their partners through a robust and collaborative idea generation process using best-in-class techniques. Third, the i-team and its partners select the most promising ideas and create a plan for implementing them. In the fourth and final step, the plan is put into action and the i-team begins monitoring results. To learn more about the four-step Innovation Delivery approach, check out the Innovation Team Playbook, which acts as a step-by-step guide for i-teams.
What makes the Innovation Delivery approach so powerful? It creates the space for city staff to step away from their daily work and to rethink issues, reimagine outcomes, and capitalize on bold new possibilities. It gives governments the tools they need to combine transformative ideas with targeted delivery methods to produce real impact.
Focusing on Data
BIG RESULTS IN PIONEER CITIES; SIGNIFICANT EXPANSION
Bloomberg Philanthropies has tested the Innovation Delivery approach with i-teams in five cities: Atlanta, Chicago, Louisville, Memphis, and New Orleans. The results have been strong. In New Orleans, the i-team helped the city reduce its murder rate by 19% in less than two years. In just sixteen months, Memphis’ i-team leveraged the approach to fill 53% of the empty storefronts in key commercial tracts of the city, giving hope to small business owners and reinvigorating the city’s core. Innovation Teams in pioneer cities have decreased homelessness, reduced youth violence, and stimulated economic growth—applying Innovation Delivery to develop and deliver bold new solutions to previously intractable problems. The mayors of all five pioneer cities have seen the value of Innovation Delivery and are investing public dollars to sustain their i-teams when their grants end.
Based on the success of the pioneer cities, and growing demand from mayors around the country and around the world, in December 2014, Bloomberg Philanthropies announced a significant expansion of the i-teams program, Twelve U.S. cities were selected to participate in the $45 million expansion: Albuquerque, NM; Boston, MA; Centennial, CO; Jersey City, NJ; Long Beach, CA; Los Angeles, CA; Mobile, AL; Minneapolis, MN; Peoria, IL; Rochester, NY; Seattle, WA; and Syracuse, NY. Two non-U.S. cities also joined the program: Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, Israel were also selected to participate. Funding will allow mayors in each of these cities to create dedicated i-teams to develop and deliver bold new approaches to issues such as affordable housing, public safety, infrastructure finance, customer service, and job growth.