Speaking at the GSA on the Future of Challenges and Contests in the Public Sector

GSAlogoOn April 18, I will deliver a webinar from the General Services Administration on the future of challenges in the public sector. This presentation will draw on my work funded by the IBM Center for the Business of Government on The webinar will also highlight findings from my recent work that is looking at how to leverage collective intelligence on participatory platforms. I will conclude with guidelines on how to manage ideas within public agencies based on my book, Intrapreneurship: Managing Ideas Within Your Organization. To register for the webinar, please click here. The webinar is organized by DigitalGov University.

ASPA 2013 – Collective Intelligence in the Public Sector

aspanew2color2I just returned from the 2013 Annual Conference of the American Society for Public Administration in New Orleans. I participated on a panel titled, Institutionalizing Social Media in the Public Sector, moderated by John Kamensky (IBM Center for the Business of Government). Panelist included: Ines Mergel (Maxwell SchoolSyracuse University), Tanya M. Kelley (Arizona State University), and Sherri R. Greenberg (LBJ School of Public Affairs, University of Texas at Austin). My remarks focused on the future of crowdsourcing in the public sector by highlighting four different archetypes of participatory platforms that leverage collective intelligence for solving governance challenges.

Overall, a great experience to network with colleagues, exchange ideas, and enjoy New Orleans!

Search History Results on Big Data and Analytics

I am beginning work on my research project on Big Data. See below for some interesting search history trend data on the terms 'big data' and 'analytics'. At first glance, the term 'big data' appears to be fading in popularity. Plus, it is interesting to note the most popular cities from where the searches have been conducted.

Speaking at the Society for Information Management’s Advanced Practices Council

headerI will be presenting my research on innovation and intrapreneurship to the Advanced Practices Council (APC) of the Society of Information Management. This presentation is based on my recent book, Intrapreneurship: Managing Ideas within Your Organization, and will take place in Atlanta, GA on January 22, 2013.

desouzabookAn organization’s ability to compete and continuously renew itself is contingent upon how well it leverages the idea creators in its midst. When organizations fail to leverage their employees' ideas and when employees stumble in their ability to effectively manage those ideas, the loss of energy at all levels – from individuals to organizations and even to society – is tremendous. In this presentation, I will outline how to drive change within organizations through a focus on intrapreneurship. Intrapreneurship-focused organizations give employees resources, time, and budgets to work on their own ideas because they know that creating space for their employees to be inventive may yield the most valuable contributions. Moreover, these organizations do not simply give employees space and then forget about them. They know how to hold employees accountable for their ideas, support employees in their efforts to develop and commercialize ideas, and encourage the intrapreneurial spirit. Drawing on my research and experience consulting with thirty global organizations, I outlines ways to manage 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, I will help you to identify the value in your own ideas and those of others to ultimately benefit your organization. In today’s competitive environment, an organization is only as good as its ability to manage ideas. Successful organizations will be able to design, build, implement, and sustain intrapreneurship processes that are superior to those of their competitors. It is through these processes that organizations will be able to act quickly and effectively to introduce new products and services, avoid blind spots, and attract and retain the best minds around.

My Research Mind – A Little Messy

I have been doing some reflection on my research interests and the connections between the various scientific domains in which I work. I will be on a panel, Working on Mars while Living on Earth - Balancing Demands across Disciplinary Boundaries, with Sandeep Purao (Penn State University), Ajay Vinze (Arizona State University), and Steve Sawyer (Syracuse University) at the 22nd Workshop on Information Systems and Technology where I will share some of my lessons learnt in doing interdisciplinary research and holding academic appointments in various disciplinary units from business schools to information schools and urban studies to public administration.

For a sneak preview here is a graphical description of my research spheres.

Below is a graphical description of my research trajectory mapped across various dimensions.

Leveraging Intrapreneurship towards Organizational Change @ PMI Phoenix Chapter

I will be giving two talks to the Project Management Institute's Phoenix Chapter. Both talks will be on Leveraging Intrapreneurship towards Organizational Change: A Focus on Process Management. The first talk will take place on August 15 @ Dave and Busters (Desert Ridge-North Valley), and the second talk on August 16 @ Doubletree Suites (44th Street and Van Buren-South Valley). The talk will be based on my recent book, Intrapreneurship: Managing Ideas Within Your Organization. If you are in the Phoenix metropolitan area, please stop by.

Getting the Best from Your Employees: Leverage Their Ideas

Have you ever struggled with getting the best from your employees? If you have spent even minimal time managing people, your answer is probably going to be 'yes.' Managers often struggle with getting their employees to give their best or to punch above their weight. This topic has been a focus of many dissertations, books, and pundit advice sessions. Among the multitude of reasons why managers struggle with their employees, I submit one of the most critical: most managers lack capabilities to leverage their employee's ideas. Based on my research and consulting with over 30 global organizations (see Intrapreneurship: Managing Ideas Within Your Organization), here are five simple good habits to internalize , if you want to get the best from your employees and their talent.

  • First, design an idea-friendly environment for your employees.
  • Second, be an advocate for your employee's ideas.
  • Third, connect your employee to networks that can harness their ideas.
  • Fourth, collaborate with your employees on experimenting with their ideas.
  • Fifth, mobilize your networks to support the diffusion of your employee's ideas and expertise.
P.S. This is an excerpt of an article that I am writing for a magazine. For more details, send me an email.

Visit to the Rotman School of Management – April 3, 2012

I enjoyed my recent visit to Toronto. I had the privilege of addressing a sold-out crowd at the Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto. If your organization is interested in having me come by and talk about my recent book, Intrapreneurship: Managing Ideas Within Your Organization (University of Toronto Press, 2011) please send me an email. See below for a brief excerpt from my talk at the Rotman School of Management.

Brad Larson, Creator of Molecules App, Honorable Mention @ NIH/NLM “Show off your Apps” Competition

As promised, in my previous post, my research team and I will be featuring various app developers who have contributed to challenges run by federal agencies on

Developer: Brad Larson
Bio: Brad Larson is technically gifted with a track-record of programming. He has been working in the mobile app realm since the days of Palm. He is an engineer by training, earning a BS in chemical Engineering with a minor in Computer Science from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, in addition to an MS and PhD in Materials Science from the University of Wisconsin. His current interests in the mobile development space focus on advanced 3-D graphics and high performance image and video processing, particularly when used in scientific applications such as machine vision.
Current Position: Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer at SonoPlot, Inc., Consults and develops through Sunset Lake Software

App in Focus: Molecules
Federal Citizen App Program: NIH/NLM “Show off your Apps” Competition
Recognition: Honorable Mention

Description of the App: Molecules is an app that displays 3D renderings of molecules. It allows users to access and download various molecules from the RCSB Protein Data Bank or NCBI’s PubChem. Both are public repositories for molecules and compounds. Once a specified molecule or compound is downloaded, the app displays a 3D rendering and permits the user to manipulate their view; to zoom, pan or even to change from ball-and-stick to spacefilling visualization models. The molecules once downloaded are stored on the mobile device for later review.

Who is the App Intended to Serve: The original target audiences were researchers and high-end knowledge workers in the sciences. Now the primary users are in the education field, with usage even at the high school level.

Current Statistics: The application runs on iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. As of March 22, 2012, Molecules has been downloaded by 2,040,480 people.

Why was the app developed: Initial work on the application began on June 15, 2008 and the first version was submitted on July 6, 2008. It launched with the iPhone App Store on July 10, 2008. Molecules was created to solve a challenge identified by his brother, and one that if solved would benefit many researchers. It began and continues to be developed as a hobby project that focuses on 3D renderings of molecules and compounds. In addition to generating 3D renderings of specific molecules, the application was intended to provide mobile access to users anywhere.

How was the app developed: The development of Molecules began with the normal design process (defining the scope, etc.). With its development contingent upon Brad’s learning and mastery of particular skills, such as 3D rendering. The Apple Developer conferences played a critical role in not only teaching him some of these skills, but also in connecting him with others in the development community. Once able to 3D render, he partnered with RCSB Protein Bank and the NCBI’s PubChem to leverage their databases of molecules and compounds. Molecules makes its source code publicly available, allowing other developers to research and fix bugs/other issues. Complications and challenges in the development process were addressed via two avenues; his network of developers built through conferences and the online resource,

How was the availability of the app communicated to potential users: As one of the first 500 applications on the iPhone App Store, it was fairly visible from the launch of that service. It was the eighth most downloaded free utility in 2008. Since then, it has been featured by Apple multiple times on the App Store, and has appeared in passing on Apple's television commercials and in a couple of their keynote presentations. Other websites have listed it in collections of scientific and educational iOS applications. Beyond that, Brad has told friends and associates about the application, but have not actively advertised it beyond occasional mentions on various developer websites like Stack Overflow.

What were the key lessons learned during the development of the app: 1) Build small, throwaway test applications to explore specific areas that I didn't understand and then to use the lessons learned from these experiments in the larger finished application, and 2) Attend conferences for networking to build partnerships and working relationship with other developers.

What recommendations do you have for government agencies that are trying to incentivize the creation of citizen apps and the leveraging of open data programs:

  • Increase the visibility of the challenges and competitions. Many app developers do not know of them.
  • Improve communication with app developers and external parties. Leverage the app developer networks to increase the reach of the message.
  • Cash prizes while good need to be in touch with realities of developers. Seldom do developers have extensive resources to support travel to D.C for events (even when they win prizes or receive recognition).
  • Support the development of local events for app developers to meet, share ideas, learn from each other, and work on problems.

What do you plan on doing next with the Molecules app, and your interest in app development for tackling social and technical problems: Brad plans to continue the development and refinement of Molecules based upon the reviews he receives online. To-date 389 reviews have been written for all-versions of the app, referencing features such as color coding, interface layout and inclusion of more molecule information. His most recent efforts have been focused on adapting and improving the application for the iPad 3. He also, as noted above has begun work in ‘assisted visioning’ applications.