As the year wraps up, I have been taking time to relax, reflect, and plan for 2012. I have been always intrigued by the questions we ask ourselves when we reflect. Questions, and our ability to engaging in the questioning process, both introspectively and with others, is critical for the development of our cognitive, emotional, and spiritual capacities.
I have (finally) created a Google Scholar profile. Please see here for my profile.
I have received a grant from the IBM Center for the Business of Government for my research project, Citizen Apps as a Democratizing Technology: Challenges and Opportunities for Federal Agencies. This project will be conducted as part of the policy informatics portfolio at the Metropolitan Institute.
Most US federal agencies have embraced President Obama's vision for 1) greater transparency, 2) increased citizen participation, and 3) greater collaboration. A critical outcome of these initiatives is the willingness of federal agencies to engage with citizens around open-data initiatives and the creation of technology for solving public policy problems - 'citizen apps.' We are witnessing an increasing proliferation of 'citizen apps', i.e. applications designed by citizens and developers to solve public policy challenges. Federal agencies are not only opening up data reservoirs, but are also incentivizing the development of citizen apps through competitions. In this research project, we propose to study citizen apps and the federal programs that fostered (incentivized) their creation.
There are many reasons why it is beneficial to involve citizens in the governance process. One, it opens up problem solving opportunities where citizens can participate. Second, it serves as a forum to increase the diversity of thought and knowledge brought to a problem. This increases the potential for innovation by engaging many minds to solve complex problems. Citizen participation leads to greater collective intelligence and hopefully more robust solutions for social issues. Third, it allows citizens to solve problems that a government agency might be challenged to address. Finally, it empowers the vision set forth by former President John F. Kennedy, "Ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country." Citizen app programs normally come in two broad flavors. One set of citizen app programs are fueled by government open-data initiatives. In these cases, a government agency makes data available to the public and the public in turn responds by using this data creatively to generate technologies (the apps) that better the lives of citizens. The second set of citizen app programs is where a government agency issues a challenge or problem to the public. The public then responds by building solutions to the challenge. In this case, the government may incentivize the development of the apps through issue of recognition prizes and funding. This success of both types of citizen app programs depends on the dynamic collaboration of government agencies, app developers, and the citizenry. To date, our knowledge on what makes for successful collaboration among these three players is limited.
There are a number of design considerations that need to be addressed when building citizen app programs from the nature of incentives provided to goals of the apps, the motivations that drive citizens to create the apps, and how (and where) to deploy the apps, the involvement by the agency (e.g. staff time to interact with app developers), level and amount of data availability, and creation of problem-solving communities and forums, among others. In this research project, we will uncover design considerations that government executives need to bear in mind as they initiate citizen app programs. We will also compare and contrast citizen app programs to arrive at a set of best practices by looking at critical success factors that led to citizen app programs that were highly successful.
Our research project will thoroughly inventory and study the range of citizen apps to understand the typology of the apps, the data they use, the problems they address, the motivation of the designers, the usage by citizens, and the impact on government and governance. We propose to discover and define the inter-relations between the government agencies, the app developers, and the citizens. While our focus will be on studying citizen apps generated out of programs commissioned by the federal government, we will also look at programs started by progressive states (e.g. New York, California, etc).
The results of the final report will benefit public sector government executives, public managers, and the public-at-large in several ways: 1) it will enable government executives to avoid common pitfalls when incentivizing citizen app programs (for e.g. placing emphasis on the frontend, i.e. the creation of apps, and ignoring the more challenging aspect of ensuring that the apps are diffused into the agency's work practices or to citizens); 2) it will enable public managers to understand the landscape of citizen apps, the motivations of citizens who create them, and the factors that drive their usage; and 3) it will enable federal agencies to better engage citizens into the policy setting process through supporting technology development thereby increasing the chances of more effective solution generation for policy problems.
The Metropolitan Institute at Virginia Tech has entered into an agreement to partner with ACT for Alexandria to advance the design of citizen engagement platforms.I will lead a team of researchers who will work in collaboration with ACT for Alexandria personnel to examine public participation on the ACTion Alexandria platform. The team will look at how user interactions on the community platform can guide design choices that promote more robust forms of citizen engagement.
ACT for Alexandria is a community foundation founded in the the fall of 2004 by a small group of citizens who came together to decide how best to stimulate philanthropic giving to improve the lives of the most vulnerable in their community. The ACTion Alexandria project is a new citizen engagement platform which provides interactive tools that make it easier for residents to take a more active role in addressing community problems. ACTion Alexandria connects individuals to nonprofit organizations they want to support, but with a strictly local focus. Individuals have the opportunity to take action on behalf of nonprofits working to improve the community.
ACT for Alexandria is a prominent player in the non-profit space. We are excited to partner with them to study the dynamics of public participation in action. The ACTion platform gives us access to real world scenarios of how citizens use technology to engage each other.
This initiative will advance the work being done in Policy Informatics at the Metropolitan Institute. Designing better collaborative and participatory platforms remains a critical challenge in the public arena. We are not only interested in this project from a research point of view but also from a design and policy point of view. The Metropolitan Institute will be analyzing information on user behavior on the platform, designing experiments to test various strategies for increasing engagement on the platform, and contributing to the design of the overall platform.
Collaborating on this effort allows us the opportunity to make a difference in our community. The MI is based in Alexandria and we want to be part of the community. ACT for Alexandria provides an amazing array of services, from scholarships to leadership training. ACTion Alexandria is where the idea of community engagement meets the newest technological innovations.
I will be traveling to Vienna (Nov16-19) to moderate a panel at the Hidden Champions in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) and Dynamically Changing Environments. The focus of the panel will be on designing collaborative alliances for sustainable innovation. I will share results from two of my prior project, I4I (Ideas for Innovation) and Intraprenuership. This conference is hosted by CEEMAN (Central and East European Management Development Association) and IEDC-Bled School of Management and in cooperation with RABE-Russian Association of Business Education and Polish Association of Management Education FORUM. The event will take place at the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber congress center.
I have entered into an agreement with the management team of iHear Network to join their advisory board. I am excited to help iHear Network realize their vision of developing an innovative app for smart phones. The iHear app uses text-to-speech integration to connect users to relevant stories, news, and conversations. iHear Network recently appointed Paul Simons, a former University of Washington iSchool graduate student of mine, to serve as the CEO. Please click here for the press release - iHear Network Press Release.
My latest book will be released in the Fall by the University of Toronto Press.
As an employee, you suspect that your best ideas are valuable and could greatly benefit your organization. Management also recognizes that a company's ability to compete is contingent on how well it leverages its employees' ideas. So, why are individuals at all levels of organizations typically poor advocates for ideas? Intrapreneurship provides an engaging guide for both managers and employees on how to direct the flow of ideas and foster a culture of entrepreneurship within their company's existing structure. Based on my research and experience consulting with thirty global organizations, Intrapreneurship outlines ways to mobilize all types of ideas - including blockbusters with the potential to create radically new external products and services, and more incremental innovations for improving internal processes. With practical frameworks and real life examples for both employees and managers, Intrapreneurship will help you to identify the value in your own ideas and those of others to ultimately benefit your organization.
You cannot stay competitive and lead your industry unless you mine the potential within your own organization. Desouza makes the case for identifying and empowering talent to steward innovation from within. Intrapreneurship will help you tap your company's greatest potential.
---Scott Belsky, CEO of Behance, National Bestselling Author of Making Ideas Happen
We are an organization that has built a reputation for innovative products that are game changers. Innovation calls for tenacity and rigor. Intrapreneurship is filled with ideas and solutions that will enable you to build a robust innovation program that is embraced by every employee in your organization. It is a must read for executives who want to distinguish their organizations by their capacity to harness ideas in each and every employee. Read it, now!
---Keith Allman, President, Delta Faucet Company
Intrapreneurship offers a fresh and timely perspective on how to harness – and not kill – the power of innovation that exists inside every organization – including nonprofits. In his book, Desouza masterfully weaves academic research together with real life stories across industries to show us how to foster innovation and turn the best ideas into reality. His fusion of innovation and implementation into a single, pragmatic intrapreneurship framework is where the magic happens. This book is a must read for employees and leadership alike whether you are trying to increase profits, save the world, or both.
---Neal Myrick, Executive Director, Groundwire
In corporate America, brilliant ideas that make it to market often seem like serendipitous events, and often they were. An idea found its way through the territorial land mines of the organization that more often sabotage innovation. In the world of annual capital budgets, large scale initiatives and dash boards that drive our incentive compensation, how do we as leaders foster a reliable and safe culture where innovation gets plenty of oxygen? Desouza in Intrapreneurship provides an excellent framework to foster such a culture. More importantly, this framework calls us to be servant leaders, to be leaders that help our organizations harness the intellectual power of our employees and to say “we appreciate your ideas, we welcome your ideas, we make it possible for you to work on your ideas”. Innovation need not be a serendipitous happening. It can be baked into our organizations as a competency. Desouza provides us an excellent guide to help us build and nourish an Intrapreneurship competency in our organizations.
---Weldon "Butch" Leonardson, SVP & CIO, Boeing Employees Credit Union (BECU)
Intrapreneurship is a driven from the bottom-up based upon employee initiatives. Desouza argues that ideas are at the heart of intrapreneurship. He richly illustrates his ideas from today’s businesses and incorporates theory to develop a roadmap from conception to products and services. The continuing process is: generation and mobilization, advocacy and screening, experimentation, commercialization, diffusion and implementation. There is no silver bullet, but a rationale organizational process. Desouza challenges the thinking executive to go beyond the usual organizational notions to a new way of thinking about how to realize intrapreneurship in your firm.
---Dr. Richard M. Burton, The Fuqua School of Business, Duke University
Innovation is a key strategic priority for most large companies, and most executives today have realized they cannot just give responsibility for innovation to their R&D group or their business development team - they need to make innovation everyone’s job. But how do you do that? The evidence suggests most companies actually do a terrific job of killing off the entrepreneurial endeavors of their would-be innovators, through their standardized procedures and risk-averse mentalities. Kevin Desouza’s book, Intrapreneurship: Managing Ideas within Your Organization, provides the solution. He gives guidance to the people with bright ideas, to help them build support and get their ideas taken seriously, and he offers advice on how to manage and organize a company to give these would-be intrapreneurs as much support as possible. Drawing from his own practical experience as well as decades of academic research, Desouza’s book is a must-read in companies that care about making innovation everyone’s job.
---Julian Birkinshaw, Professor of Strategic and International Management, London Business School, co-founder of the Management Innovation Lab (MLab), Fellow of the Advanced Institute of Management Research (UK), and author of Reinventing Management (2010)
As competition intensifies globally, no corporation can afford to ignore the potential of corporate entrepreneurs, or ‘intrapreneurs’, to drive growth and continual renewal. Desouza provides a new look and important contribution to the field of innovation, and he does so in a way that should be of keen interest to executives, intrapreneurs and aspiring intrapreneurs across industries. Not only does Desouza explore new territory, he does so in a highly readable, applied manner drawing from both research and practice. Intrapreneurship will enable employees and managers to overcome typical, and costly, roadblocks faced when transforming ideas into commercially viable products and services.
---Robert Wolcott, Co-Founder and Executive Director, Kellogg Innovation Network, Northwestern University
By proactively engaging managers and employees in the innovation process Desouza shows organizations how to successfully move ideas from concept through to implementation. Enabling them to harness the power of their own ideas to reduce costs, improve efficiency and generate new business growth. Desouza uses real world examples, personal insight and research to illustrate how it is done. Desouza’s book provides a pragmatic and realistic roadmap for transforming the way organizations generate and implement new ideas, internally and externally. The book provides a simple and reliable process for building Intrapreneurship as a core competency. Executives, managers and intrapreneurs will benefit from applying the principles and practices outlined in the book to achieve an innovation edge.
---Susan Foley, author of Entrepreneurs Inside, Managing Partner, Corporate Entrepreneurs, LLC.
Are you frustrated with the fact that companies often talk about the need to generate and collect their employee’s ideas, but in reality they lack tangible tools and processes to efficiently leverage these ideas into real projects and products? Despair no more! In his new book Desouza shows us how innovative companies do not only promote generation of ideas, but encourage the entrepreneurial spirit of their employees by supporting their efforts to develop and commercialize their ideas, both internally and also externally. This book is a must for all managers who are struggling to design effective innovation processes and for employees who want to learn the science, and art, of pursuing ideas to their full potential inside their organization.
---Miloš Ebner, Direktor strateškega inoviranja/ Chief Innovation Officer
- “How Not to Silence the Resistance: Why Change Managers need Someone to Talk to,” Strategic Direction, 27(7), 2011, 28-30 [Click here to access the article]