Sometimes simply talking about a concept doesn’t do it justice. Often it takes seeing something tangible to drive the point home. While we talk about agile development and more effective use of technology in addressing civic issues, when we see it in practice we begin to see what is actually possible, and understand the power in the approach.
Last week, during a conversation with one of our city contacts she began sharing with me her initial reluctance in having been “put in charge of yet another program designed to help my city.” While she admirably supported the Fellows during city residency and partnered with them in researching issues they could address, it was when the team showed her the results of their initial work – a mobile toolkit app built in just weeks, enabling groups to gather important neighborhood-level information — she really got it.
And got it she did. When the team finished the demo, she whisked them off to show others. When the Mayor dropped by her office unexpectedly, she had them demo to him as well. She talked of how to publicize the app — to get the word out to the public and the press.
Even if she was prone to hyperbole (which she isn’t), the fact that she described the work as “remarkable” and referred to the team as “game changers in her city,” really drove the point home. Similar reactions are being repeated in each of the cities where we are currently deploying apps.
It’s one thing to evangelize an approach and another to demonstrate it with tangible examples. As the Fellows build and deploy applications of value, they make a difference not only in addressing complex city needs – but in changing perspectives as well. Perspective which, at the end of the day, sets the stride for further positive changes.