Dad. Assistant City Manager. Surviving.

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TLG 2014 Conference

Last week I had the pleasure to attend the Alliance for Innovation’s Transforming Local Government conference. It was enlightening and inspiring to be around other public servants that have done such great, innovative work. Sadly I can’t point you to videos of the conference presenters, but you can watch the Alliance’s YouTube channel that contains submissions for their Innovation Awards. Also, some of the best information can be found under the hashtag #tlg2014.

I took a lot away from the Conference, but I think the greatest example of a change initiative came from the city of Durham, North Carolina. Their presenters included a GIS Analyst and Zoning Inspector (usually you see finance director and city manager types). They successfully changed their organizational culture by involving employees every step of the way, and really by letting the employees lead. Very impressive.

Encourage Startups in Your City

Working in local government, I hear lots of people ask how they can become the next Silicon Valley. How can they become a haven for tech startups. Read the magazines or the blogs and this is a common sentiment. And this is a really difficult question, because it usually requires a cultural change.

Wired magazine recently had an article about what Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh is doing in Las Vegas. If you want to encourage startups to locate to your jurisdiction, go have a read.

The Value of Poli-Sci in Iraq and at West Point

From After Years at War, the Army Adapts to Garrison Life, New York Times (emphasis mine):

Captain Archuleta, 30, is the face of today’s Army, the kind of young officer who had experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan far beyond his rank. President of his 2006 class at West Point, he deployed a year later as a platoon leader to Babil Province, south of Baghdad. One day, his battery commander approached him with an unusual offer.

“He said, ‘I’m having trouble with the town council,'” Captain Archuleta recalled. “‘I know you are a wonky poli-sci kind of guy. I’m at a standstill. Can you contribute to this?‘”

Captain Archuleta joined a team of military representatives to the town council of Al Haq, where he helped oversee public services — water, roads, electricity — assisted in reconciliation talks with tribal elders and worked as a payroll officer to Iraqi security forces.

I was perusing the Times this morning and ran across this article. The discussion of the value of political science degrees (poli-sci UGA ’08!) gave me quite a bit of joy. I’m really proud that the Army recognized Captain Archuleta and has selected him to teach governance at West Point.

Blogging pioneer Dave Winer named Nick Bilton as his honoree for Blogger of the Year. I love Dave’s writeup (my emphasis):

Nick Bilton decided that it was time to ask a question that the FAA didn’t want to deal with, or had no way to deal with, or couldn’t deal with for some reason. Political organizations often get stuck. The individuals inside may know it’s time to act, but they can’t pull it together.

Bilton asked a simple question that all of us who fly have asked. Would the plane crash if I kept reading a book on my iPad while the plane takes off? If not, why do I have to turn it off?

I’ve seen from inside government that people rarely ask the question, “Why do we do this?” Ask it and see the answers that you receive.

The Internet Archive

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