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Puffy Pillows & Community Policing

I’ve been thinking about public sector innovation and how many times we re-invent the wheel and spend the same dollar over and over again. The following metaphor comes to mind:

Imagine a big puffy down pillow. You push your fist into the pillow. As long as you keep your fist in place, the new shape remains. If you lift your fist, it puffs back up. It doesn’t stick.


As a Visiting Fellow, at Justice, I evaluated Clinton’s innovative Advancing Community Policing grants and wrote a book, Community Policing in Action, about the project. It was a great story and full of the similar themes of Open Government. The idea of websites was still pretty new, but all the organizational and community practices are totally relevant. Millions of dollars went into this project and a ton of hard work by law enforcement agencies across the country. This is only one of hundreds of previously funded projects with the same Open Government practices discussed today.

Why do you think we don’t build on previously funded solutions? Why do we find it so hard to collaborate and capitalize on research and learning? What’s it going to take to integrate new practices into organizations and community settings, build capacity and courageous leadership, all of which has to happen to be sticky? How can we catalyze knowledge from different sectors and disciplines into action?

Do you have examples of case studies we can use to inform our practices and build on our experience?

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Profile Photo Thom

Great post and some very thoughtful ideas, I need to read more.

in response to thismoist, I think you need to enable those that want to change and infect the organization with a desire to find something better than the status quo. The case I am familiar with is GCPedia which did someone that I think. We should also remember that real change is real hard and takes time.

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Profile Photo Alicia Mazzara

Sometimes I think it’s hard to collaborate because we just don’t know what others are doing. That is, we don’t even realize we are re-inventing the wheel; we think we’re inventing it for the first time. Once people know, I think they are eager to share and build upon the work of others.

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