Innovation-Making Not Just Decisions


We were delighted to see the recent news that Bloomberg Philanthropies has launched the “What Works Cities Initiative” a three-year, $42 million (USD) effort to support mayors and local leaders in 100 mid-sized U.S. cities with the goal of helping city leaders “use data and evidence in decision-making”.

The orientation towards “decision-making” (convergent thinking) is one that is often seen in the still emerging civic innovation arena today. As innovation practice leaders we notice that such terminology is not exactly on-target from a methods and skills perspective. As practioners working with organizational leaders everyday we recognize that decision-making and innovation-making are not the same thing. Lets not assume they are. Decision-making is only one part of the changemaking/innovation cycle.

What we find in practice is that savvy civic leaders are today seeking to better understand how to integrate data-driven insights and other forms of insight, into the participartory tackling of wicked societal problems, and into a deliberate, sharable innovation process.

We understand that participatory challenge framing and changemaking are bigger than just decision-making and actually require a different, broader co-creation oriented skill-set.  These are key skills that involve deliberatly integrating divergent thinking (idea-making) and convergent thinking (decision-making) rather than focusing on the latter. Mastery of such integration skill has already become central to effective civic innovation leadership today.

Organizations can’t get to agility, resilience, adaptability, flexibility, fluxability or what ever you choose to call it by focusing on convergent thinking (decision-making) alone.

Miss that skills-shift and the need for new forms of skill-building will be missed. The opportunity to create a new generation of civic innovation leaders will be missed. The opportunity to create new adaptive organizations will be missed. The promise of next generation civic innovation skill-building is that we align skill-building to the types and scale of challenges facing civic innovation leaders today. In collaboration with HumanCities Collaborative, Humantific is happy to be partnering with city leaders seeking to work in this direction.

As interest in civic innovation rises globally the distinction between mastery of decision-making (convergent thinking) and mastery of innovation-making (divergent & convergent thinking orchestrartion) will hopefully become more clear.


Accelerating Civic Innovation/ Ten 2015 Considerations

Chief Civic Innovation Officer Skills

HumanCities Collaborative

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