10 questions for public innovators

Are you a public innovator? If you’re reading this, I suspect you are. And I want to engage you on 10 questions I hear from public innovators repeatedly. I’m sending these questions as we gear up for our next Harwood Public Innovators Lab. See what these questions spur in you and write back. 1. How can I position my organization so that it not only provides worthy services or programs, but is catalytic and creates systemic change in the community?

2. How can I genuinely engage other people to see why I’m pursing the path that I am in my work – and when do I decide to keep moving forward despite their resistance?

3. How do I move my organization or group to focus on the tough, underlying questions at hand rather than to reach for the easy answers? And how do I avoid watering down our mission?

4. How do I keep our efforts aligned with the reality of our capacity, so that we have a chance to achieve results, and avoid doing things that sound good but ultimately won’t make a real difference?

5. How can I place 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 too slowly?

7. How do I take effective action when oftentimes there is limited capacity for action within our community?

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, fast-growing national organizations to individuals 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 as well as some of the individuals who are attending our Public Innovators Lab.

Be well.