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Civic Tech is about getting involved

Last October I spent the weekend in Philadelphia with 200 people sharing our passion. Our passion is changing how government and communities interact. The event was Code for America’s first Brigade Summit. A two-day conference where shared our successes, frustrations, and plans to bring volunteerism into the 21st century. I could go on with what we did, but this video does a much better job. We have several things going on in Raleigh, Wake County, and the Triangle.  Join us.

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All or Nothing

While applicable to our lives in general, this article identifies certain ways that perfection may lead to failure, relevant to innovation in particular. 9 Reasons Perfectionism is a Bad Thing Perfectionism is an attempt to avoid failure. Fear of failure stifles innovation. With that in mind, four of the article’s reasons stood out to me: You are never done – this idea of never being done prevents you from offering business value to your customer at the earliest point in…

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Agile in Action – Human Resources Salary Survey tools

Each year, Wake County Human Resources performs the critical but very time-consuming task of collecting comparable compensation data from around 30 benchmark organizations regarding a third of the County’s job classifications. When the study reared its head this time around, Anza Harker came to our team to discuss options to improve the study.  As is often the case with innovation, the change began when someone who felt the business pain recognized that there had to be a better way to…

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Hacking Time to learn

One of the regular pieces of feedback that I get when I discuss training with people is that there just isn’t enough time to learn everything that you want to learn.  I think this complaint often is tied to how we approach continuous learning rather than specific time limits. One of the things that I have done over the years is to carve out just fifteen minutes a day to pick up something new.  I find that by doing that,…

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Meaningful Learning

A learning mindset is one of the most crucial characteristics of an innovator.  This is an interesting take on three different approaches to learning: https://fee.org/articles/meaningful-learning-is-just-in-time-not-just-in-case/ Learning in order to avoid pain (average) Learning in order to gain credit/status/praise/recognition (elite) Learning in order to solve a problem (ascendant) Ascendant learners seek meaningful, practical and challenging learning.  This type of learning can be frustrating, exhausting, taxing….even painful.  And that’s exactly why it’s the least common.  The reward is timely solutions that directly address the…

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What Is Considered ‘Smart’ Government in the Digital Age?

At yesterday’s NC Digital Government Summit, I had the opportunity to sit down with colleagues from the Town of Cary, the City of Raleigh and the State of North Carolina. In the panel, we discussed what “smart” really means for our communities, our state and government in general. It was a frank discussion on the pitfalls and opportunities presented by the tsunami of “smart” technologies and the value of the concepts behind them. I found it particularly insightful to hear…

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Soft Skills

I found this article a few months ago and reread it often to reinforce what I already know, but what the professional world makes me doubt…that interpersonal skills are invaluable: https://fee.org/articles/interpersonal-skills-are-anything-but-soft/ We’ve all engaged in job searches where the only requirements mentioned are onerous lists of learnable, tangible skills.  For example, a typical list for my role, business analyst might look like this: Analyze, define, and document requirements for data, workflow and business processes Develop a strong understanding of the…

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People > Data

In a recent article, DJ Patil former chief data scientist for the US Government said, “Data helps us understand problems and find solutions, but we should never forget that it’s about people first.” This line struck me as central to mission we are undertaking in the innovation program here at Wake County. Let me breakdown some of the things that have been churning through my head these past few months. I just want to say that I am fortunate to…

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Motivating change

In my last post, I shared an interesting document from WWII, the Simple Sabotage Field Guide. In that post, I focused on the advice that is given for business disruption.  However, there is also an interesting section on motivating saboteurs, aptly called “Motivating the Saboteur,” that I think can be helpful when thinking about innovation in our organizations. This section clearly speaks to the need to treat people like humans and understand that they have intrinsic motivations that are critical.…

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Local “Brigades” are leading the civic tech movement

There is one point that is worth debating when civic tech people get together and that is whether civic tech flows from local to national or national to local. I feel fairly strongly that everything starts local and goes from there.  Code for America does offer those of us in civic tech a framework and an umbrella to gather under, but the work is done locally. The reason I mention it is that there is a national advisory council of…

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