Are we falling into a ‘buzzword trap’ around failure?
This question was on the mind of more than a few attendees at the FAILFaire “Fail to Scale” event, hosted two weeks ago by UNICEF Innovation.
Events like FAILFaire, platforms like Admitting Failure, and publications such as Stanford Social Innovation Review’s What Didn’t Work series are proving the old adage “failure is not an option” obsolete. We are recognizing that without failure, we lose the opportunity to learn why something didn’t work—“success goes to the head, but losing goes to the heart.” Failure hits hard and the knowledge we gain from it motivates change.
But while these events and platforms offer invaluable opportunities to open up about failure, how do we harness these discussions on failure to produce failure-informed change?
At FAILFaire, representatives from organizations ranging from UN agencies to social enterprises, media start-ups … Read More »
This is the fourth installment of an Aspen Institute Communications and Society program series on equitable and accountable governance to be shared over a six-week period. The series draws on conversations from the 2013 Forum on Communications and Society to encourage constructive dialogue around open government.
Among open government practitioners, The Citizen is a beloved topic of conversation. We love to talk about how The Citizen is frustrated, how The Citizen should be empowered, and—our favorite—how The Citizen will rise up to solve The Challenge.
But who are these mythical citizens? And, more importantly, what are they frustrated about, how will they be empowered and why on earth do they want to rise up to solve what problem?
At FOCAS 2013, Bryan Sivak of the US Department of Health and Human Services advocated for a more nuanced definition of ‘citizen’: “The term ‘citizen’ … Read More »
Rebooter in World Policy Journal
Our fantastic communications intern, Andres Lizcano Rodriguez, landed a great piece on Colombia’s gender gap in World Policy Journal’s blog. Responding to incendiary comments by a prominent restauranteur in Bogotá about a rape that occurred at his restaurant, Andres argues that “beneath the country’s rosy modernization narrative is a disturbing tale of violence against women, violations of women’s rights, and entrenched gender inequity.”
Last month, Transparency International (TI) released The Global Corruption Report: Education. A corresponding World Bank blog post, written by one of the report’s contributors, poses the question at the heart of the report’s teacher absenteeism section: How can we help the “real losers…[the] students who yearn for an education but end up receiving no instruction?”
Both the report and the post share findings from multiple countries and discuss increasing monitoring and furthering research to decrease teacher absenteeism, one of the “most serious forms of corruption in education.”
Insights from the TI report include: absences often originate from inefficiency or corruption “upstream”; higher salaries don’t equate higher performance; supervision and disciplinary action could help reduce corruption; and, finally, these systems are failing children.
All of the above are true and worth noting.
But what is less clear in the World … Read More »
This is the third installment of an Aspen Institute Communications and Society program series on equitable and accountable governance to be shared over a six-week period. The series draws on conversations from the 2013 Forum on Communications and Society to encourage constructive dialogue around open government.
The central irony of open government is that it’s often not “open” at all. For all the talk of technology’s broad and inclusive reach, conversations on open government are dominated by those with the means to participate. In one Italian parliamentary monitoring project, participants were mostly men (84 percent) and 3,500 times more likely to hold a PhD than the average citizen. The priorities raised, as a result, represent the views of a narrow and elite group of citizens.
At FOCAS 2013, Kelly Born of the Hewlett Foundation asked attendees, which included senior executives from the Sunlight Foundation, the White … Read More »
Reboot at Social Enterprise Bootcamp
Dave Algoso and Ethan Wilkes will lead a workshop on November 16 at Social Enterprise Bootcamp in New York City. The session will help enterprises pinpoint the needs they seek to serve by teaching core research skills, including how to identify target audiences and work with cultural differences.
This is the second installment of an Aspen Institute Communications and Society program series on equitable and accountable governance to be shared over a six-week period. The series draws on conversations from the 2013 Forum on Communications and Society to encourage constructive dialogue around open government.
What is “open government”? The question is deceivingly difficult to answer.
New York University’s Governance Lab recently listed 30 definitions of the term. Author Justin Longo explains: “Defining what open government means is complicated by the range of definitions, meanings and motivations that exist.”
And that’s precisely the problem: “open government” has become incredibly ambiguous.
The participants at FOCAS 2013 agreed. “Can we break down what open government actually means?” asked Phil Ashlock of Civic Agency. “Is open data the fundamental part of open government? That’s a technocentric view. Where does policy fit into this? [...] We need standardization in our use … Read More »
Tools are helpful. Processes are important. But when it comes down to it, people are key.
This theme drives plenty of our project work, but last Friday we had the opportunity to step back and apply the concept to our own inner workings.
We were fortunate to benefit from the insights and experience of Ifoda Abdurazakova, a Knowledge Management (KM) Specialist from UNDP and UN Women. Ifoda led a workshop at our New York headquarters on the challenges of building and maintaining effective KM systems.
The question of the day: How can we better manage the ideas that constantly flow in, out, and between our offices?
We are always engaging with new ideas. Our inboxes are full of articles, our walls are lined with books, and our desks are piled high with reports. Our project work constantly challenges us … Read More »
This is the first installment of an Aspen Institute Communications and Society program series on equitable and accountable governance to be shared over the next five weeks. The series draws on conversations from the 2013 Forum on Communications and Society to encourage constructive dialogue around open government.
“Open government” is everywhere.
Search the term and you’ll find OpenGovernment.org, OpenTheGovernment.org, Open Government Initiative, Open Gov Hub and the Open Gov Foundation; you’ll find open government initiatives for New York City, Boston, Kansas, Virginia, Tennessee and the list goes on; you’ll find dedicated open government plans for the White House, State Department, USAID, Treasury, Justice Department, Commerce, Energy and just about every other major federal agency. Even the departments of Defense and Homeland Security are in on open government.
And that’s just in the United States.
There is Open Government Africa, Open Government in the EU and Open Government Data. The World Bank has an Open Government Data Toolkit and recently announced a three-year initiative to help developing countries leverage open data. And this week, over 1,000 delegates from over 60 countries … Read More »
New Reboot Open Gov Blog Series at Aspen Institute
Panthea Lee’s series on open government will appear on the Aspen Institute blog over the next five weeks. The series will share conversations from the 2013 Forum on Communications and Society, which focused on the future of more equitable and accountable governance. Check out her first post “Open Government and Its Constraints“.
Reboot Featured in Tech President
“Too Much ‘Open Government,’ Not Enough Openness?” In her post for Tech President’s WeGov vertical, Panthea Lee explains why as we continue to build tools, secure commitments, and launch open gov programs, we must hold ourselves accountable for real impact on human livelihoods.
There’s no shortage of “open government”.
A simple search will pull up OpenGovernment.org, OpenTheGovernment.org, Open Government Initiative, Open Gov Hub, and the Open Gov Foundation. Since 2011, over 60 countries have joined the Open Government Partnership. The World Bank has an Open Government Data Toolkit and recently announced a three-year initiative to help developing countries leverage open data.
But despite all the ambition and innovation, the utility of this movement is yet unproven. Many initiatives seek transparent, participatory, and accountable governance, but is the practice of open government living up to the promise behind these three pillars?
Let’s start with transparency. Liberia’s Open Budget Initiative—one of the country’s Open Government Partnership commitments—set up an electronic billboard outside its office in Monrovia as a bold symbol of openness, but several key aspects of the country’s budgets—including government compensation—remain in closed … Read More »