10 questions for public innovators

I’ll be leading our Public Innovators Lab this week in Baltimore, Md., which always brings to a head some fundamental questions about people’s efforts to create change in communities. Here are some questions I hear over and over again from public innovators. See what they spur in you.

  1. How can I get other people to see why I’m pursing the path that I am in my work?
  2. How can I position, or reposition, my organization so that it’s not only providing worthy services or programs but is in the business of being catalytic and creating deep change?
  3. How do I move my organization or group beyond simply embracing the easy answers through the programs we pursue, the uses of technology we adopt, the events we stage, and get us focused on the hard work that is required to bring about change? How do we avoid watering down our mission?
  4. How do I keep our efforts aligned with the reality of our capacity, so that we have a real chance to achieve results, instead of frittering away time and resources on things that sound good but ultimately won’t move the needle?
  5. How can I put my work in a larger conceptual framework – so that it’s possible for me and others to see the bigger picture of what we’re trying to do and why?
  6. How can I sustain people’s engagement over time, especially when things get tough or move slowly?
  7. How do I take effective action when too often there is limited capacity within our own communities for action?
  8. How fast can I expect progress to come, and what should I do when everyone around me expects change seemingly overnight?
  9. How can I engage my funders and supporters who don’t want to take the time to truly understand what we’re trying to do?
  10. How can I keep myself going as I pursue my path?

These and other questions pervade almost every conversation I have with public innovators. I have heard them from leaders of large, burgeoning national organizations to folks who lead small community-based groups.

What do you think? Print out the list of questions and try answering them yourself. Send in one or more of your responses so others can benefit, too.

In the meantime, I’ll be posting some thoughts on these, and hopefully you’ll be hearing from some of the individuals attending our Public Innovators Lab as well.

Be well.