Newsletter L&I, n.º 80 (2015-11-30)

Administração Pública e inovação | Administración Pública e innovación |
Administration Publique et innovation | Public Administration and innovation

Um inovador | Un innovador | Un innovateur | An innovator

Uma inovação | Una innovación | Une innovation | An innovation

A execução da inovaçao | La ejecución de la innovación | L’exécution de l’innovation |
The innovation execution

Liderar Inovando (BR)

«Inovação e setor público: um ator em busca de um papel» [web] [intro]
«Na liderança, presidente do Einstein exalta medicina de valor» [web] [intro]
«Brasil compra inovação russa para proteção de empresas contra ataques cibernéticos» [web] [intro]
«6 descobertas surpreendentes sobre a geração Z no trabalho» [web] [intro]

Liderar Inovando (PT)

Filomeno dos Santos, presidente do Fundo Soberano de Angola: «Angola já passou por períodos difíceis, conseguiu ultrapassar e acreditamos no futuro» [web] [intro]
«Costa vai pôr economistas a estudar o que pode prometer nas eleições de 2015» [web] [intro]
«Guiné-Bissau conhece experiência de governação eletrónica de Cabo Verde» [web] [intro]
«A era dos Aceleradores – o coração dos ecossistemas de empreendedorismo» [web] [intro]

Liderar Innovando (ES)

«Los procesos de privatización sanitaria tienen que ser revisados uno por uno» [web] [intro]
«La Argentina después del cepo» [web] [intro]
«Lecciones de la innovación disruptiva» [web] [intro]
«Recursividad paisa es sinónimo de innovación frugal» [web] [intro]

Mener avec Innovation (FR)

«Brasil Ozônio: Quand le soutien de l’État propulse une entreprise» [web] [intro]
«Une vraie réforme de l'ENA: sa fermeture» [web] [intro]
«Pourquoi l'ENA reste indispensable» [web] [intro]
«Faire de l’argent avec la misère des autres» [web] [intro]

Leadership and Innovation (EN)

Vasundhara Raje, Chief Minister of Rajasthan: «Job creation is the new normal for Indian politics» [web] [intro]
«Bernie Sanders’s New Deal Socialism» [web] [intro]
«Political heavyweights are exiting DC to find a new home in Silicon Valley» [web] [intro]
«How to change the world with $10» [web] [intro]

Licencia Creative Commons Licencia Creative Commons
Atribución-NoComercial 4.0 Internacional


«How to change the world with $10»

Stephanie Hanes. The Christian Science Monitor

«Not long after her book, “Carry On, Warrior,” started climbing to the top of The New York Times bestseller list, Glennon Doyle Melton remembers sitting at home, feeling overcome by gratitude and love, and trying to figure out how to channel that energy to benefit the world.

»Ms. Doyle Melton is the author of the popular blog Momastery. She gets a lot of e-mail from readers sharing their hopes and struggles and asking for advice. So that night, Doyle Melton decided that the next e-mail she got, she was going to do something to help.

»She went to her inbox and opened a message from Sarah Nielsen, who at the time was the executive director of a small home for teen mothers in Indianapolis called Project Home Indy. Ms. Nielsen told Doyle Melton that she had just turned away a young mom with a baby boy because the organization didn’t have enough money to bring them in for the year.

»“Sarah was brokenhearted, and she said she just wanted to write me,” Doyle Melton recalls. “I wrote back to her and said, ‘Give me your phone number. I’m going to call you.’ ”

»The two women talked. Doyle Melton learned that it would cost $83,000 to give the young mother and her baby shelter for the year. So she decided to jump into what is one of the fastest-growing trends of both the philanthropic and business start-up worlds: crowdfunding.

»On a basic level, crowdfunding is when a person or group raises small bits of money from a large number of people, usually over the Internet. About $6 billion traded hands like this in 2013; in 2014 that number was $16.2 billion, according to the market research firm Massolution. That number is projected to double again this year.

»But crowdfunding can also mean something more. While the majority of crowdfunding dollars still go to for-profit ventures – everything from a company needing funds to develop a smartphone 3-D scanner promoted on the website Kickstarter.com, to a brewing company asking for funds on Indiegogo.com – some $3.06 billion in 2014 went to social causes, according to Massolution. An additional $1.97 billion went to films and the performing arts.

»While that makes up only a fraction of the $350 billion in annual charitable giving in the United States, many in the philanthropic sector see crowdfunding changing the fundamental nature of giving. It is not only a new way of raising money: It is altering the way people conceive of, and then engage in, doing good.

»“Crowdfunding is a kind of democratization of giving,” says Jacob Harold, president and chief executive officer of GuideStar, an information clearinghouse for the nonprofit sector. And as such, charitable crowdfunding is creating new relationships between donors and recipients, new questions for traditional nonprofits, and new risks as the lines blur between institutionally vetted charities, for-profit organizations, and even government agencies.

»It’s also turning ephemeral online networks into the sort of tangible communities that many people in today’s Internet age say they crave.

»This is what Doyle Melton realized that night, talking with Nielsen about the young mom who didn’t have a home. “I thought, ‘I have this community of women [through Momastery]. This is what it’s for,’ ” Doyle Melton recalls.

»She and Nielsen wrote about the teen and Project Home Indy on Doyle Melton’s blog. They asked readers for financial help. But they wrote that nobody was allowed to give more than $25. They said they believed in the power of small things with great love.

»Doyle Melton published their post. And then she banned her husband and kids from her bedroom, pulled the covers over her head, and refreshed her browser every four seconds.

»“I don’t handle drama and stress and feelings in an even-keeled way,” she says.

»They raised more than $80,000 in six hours.

»“The support, the love that people showed to this mom they didn’t know – it was incredible,” says Lakshmi Hasanadka, cofounder and current executive director of Project Home Indy.

»Since then, Doyle Melton and her team have held similar Love Flash Mobs, as they call them, for dozens of other women and organizations. They have created their own charity, Together Rising. And this past October, the group raised nearly $500,000 in 24 hours to support both a maternity center in Haiti and midwives helping refugee women and children in Berlin. The average donation was $22.

»“The world is good,” Doyle Melton wrote on Momastery the following day. “People care.... We are not alone. We are part of something bigger than ourselves.”

»This intimate connection, both with other donors and with a cause, is one of the keystones of the charitable crowdfunding movement, says Rob Wu, founder and CEO of CauseVox, an online crowdfunding platform dedicated to social good. “Donors are making crowdfunding very social, ” he says. “It’s emotionally reactive as well as easier.... No longer is philanthropy just for major donors. Some people have heard of The Giving Pledge, where a bunch of rich people give their wealth back to causes. Crowdfunding is like that for the rest of us.”

»In some ways, of course, crowdfunding for charity is not new. A generation ago, if a family’s home burned down, neighbors might pass around a coffee can at the local gas station to collect money to help them. On a wider scale, child-sponsorship campaigns urged television viewers to give a dollar a day to feed a boy in Ethiopia, or give clothes to a girl in Guatemala.

»But the coffee can had a limited reach – only people within a small geographic area even knew about the fire. And the big nonprofits with their sponsorship campaigns did not really offer donors direct connections with recipients. That dollar a day didn’t actually buy food for the child on TV: It went into a big pot of programmatic and bureaucratic funding, which (in theory, at least) provided food and clothes for children in similar situations.

»Crowdfunding expands the neighborhood coffee can collection into the cyberworld. On social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, these sorts of small-scale, personal-giving campaigns can have dramatically more reach. They can also take the children’s sponsorship concept further, using technology to connect small-scale donors with actual people in need. Meanwhile, the technology behind crowdfunding can make it a lot easier to get specific information about where the dollars are going.

»That, says Cody Switzer, assistant managing editor and director of digital products for the Chronicle of Philanthropy, is important for nonprofits in this data-driven era – particularly when it comes to younger donors. “Especially Millennials,” he says. “They don’t want to give a donation unless they know what it’s doing and where it’s going. There is an expectation of having much more information.”

»Kevin Conroy, chief product officer for GlobalGiving, one of the oldest crowdfunding sites, says this is all part of a bigger shift in the philanthropic landscape. “In the 1980s and ’90s, nonprofits pulled on heartstrings to get donors to give,” he says. “There was a lot of guilt involved. The industry as a whole has been trying to make a shift. [Now] donors are partners in making change. Crowdfunding gives you a way to see how that partnership can be real.”

Kevin Conroy, chief product officer for GlobalGiving, one of the oldest crowdfunding sites, says this is all part of a bigger shift in the philanthropic landscape. “In the 1980s and ’90s, nonprofits pulled on heartstrings to get donors to give,” he says. “There was a lot of guilt involved. The industry as a whole has been trying to make a shift. [Now] donors are partners in making change. Crowdfunding gives you a way to see how that partnership can be real.”

»And with this partnership, Mr. Conroy says, nonprofits are better able to innovate. Just as everyone who gives a few dollars to an inventor on Kickstarter realizes that the business might not take off, donors giving to new development initiatives on a crowdfunding site know the effort might not work. But they believe in trying. Crowdfunding, proponents say, can take the notoriously slow-moving nonprofit and development world and bring it into the fast-moving, innovative 21st-century economy.

»Indeed, this is what prompted Mari Kuraishi and Dennis Whittle to come up with the idea of GlobalGiving in the first place. It was the late 1990s, the height of the dot-com boom, and the two were working at the World Bank – not an institution particularly known for nimble innovation.

»As Ms. Kuraishi explains it, the World Bank is set up to give huge loans. “And at that scale you really don’t want to fail,” she says. “It’s not just embarrassing; it’s a heavy responsibility. The funds are guaranteed by the public sector. In a way, it’s irresponsible to fail at that scale. So we tended to fund things tried and tested.”

»But nobody else was taking chances on new development ideas, either. So Kuraishi and Mr. Whittle, who were in charge of the bank’s strategy and innovation, came up with the idea of holding an “innovation marketplace” contest, in which any bank employee could pitch an idea to fight poverty. The winners would get World Bank funds to put their concepts into action.

»It was a resounding success. Two years later, they opened up the competition to outsiders. Anyone, they said, could come to Washington, D.C., to the World Bank atrium and pitch ideas for saving the world. On the day of the contest, villagers from Rwanda stood next to NASA engineers, all as equals, all trying to explain to judges why their ideas deserved backing.

»But, of course, only a few people could win. So Kuraishi and Whittle began thinking about a secondary marketplace – somewhere people could shop their ideas to smaller donors. The pair left the World Bank, and in 2002 – two years before the launch of Facebook – they introduced GlobalGiving.

»On GlobalGiving.org, people can browse small-scale development projects from across the world, searching by region or cause, and then give donations online. Projects range from providing fruit trees to 25 households in Uganda, to giving groceries to older women in India, to building eco-friendly homes for Lakota families on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.

»But it was not an easy start. The dot-com boom had just turned into a bust, and it was difficult trying to tell investors what they were doing. “In a sense, the whole field has grown up around us,” Kuraishi says. “It’s much easier to explain what we do [now]. People get the idea of small amounts of money being contributed by many people and the idea that you might be funding untested things.”

»Since 2002, GlobalGiving has raised nearly $200 million from nearly 500,000 donors, supporting about 13,000 projects.

»“We’re about getting more people engaged in the business of development,” she says. “Whether it’s community leaders in Liberia who wouldn’t otherwise be visible to donors here, but who are doing really important work for communities, or the $10 donor who got a [GlobalGiving] gift card and is starting to develop a connection to a project. That act of engagement just has a lot of potential.”

»But with this potential comes a lot of questions. For the past few decades, mistrust has been growing across American society about institutions – including those that are part of the nonprofit sector. Although pollsters regularly find that Americans’ faith in charities is greater than their faith in government to solve problems, a recent Chronicle of Philanthropy poll found that about 35 percent of Americans have little or no confidence in charitable organizations.

»Crowdfunding is often presented as a way for donors to bypass cumbersome nonprofits in favor of seemingly authentic, direct relationships with beneficiaries.

»“It’s anticorporate,” says Salvador Briggman, author of the blog and podcast CrowdCrux, which follows the crowdfunding industry. “People don’t connect with brands. They connect with other people.”

»While this can, indeed, tap into a powerful grass-roots sort of good, it is also risky, says Lucy Bernholz, who runs the Digital Civil Society Lab at Stanford University. She talks, for instance, of a GoFundMe campaign earlier this year that raised nearly $100,000 in 24 hours to help families whose homes and belongings were lost in a fire in San Francisco’s Mission District. It was an incredible outpouring of neighborly support. But there was also no system to track what happened to the money.

»“There is absolutely no 501(c)(3) organization in the mix,” she says, referring to the tax status of most nonprofit groups, which carries a host of reporting obligations. “People used to say that on the Internet, nobody knows if you’re a dog. On a crowdfunding platform, nobody knows and nobody cares if you’re a nonprofit.”

»This means that, despite the appearance of authenticity, with many crowdfunding campaigns little certainty exists about where the dollars are going. Although some platforms, such as GlobalGiving, have significant vetting processes and enough reporting requirements to ensure beneficiaries would qualify for 501(c)(3) status, many others don’t. GuideStar’s Mr. Harold says his organization has counted 171 online giving platforms of different varieties.

»“There’s a lot of activity,” he says. “And when there are that many, it’s really hard for any one of them to achieve economies of scale ... not all of them are totally trustworthy.”

»Harold says he has not seen any cases of outright fraud. But many platforms are so small that they don’t have resources to do proper vetting. This means it can be hard to determine who – or what – is behind different projects.

»As Ms. Bernholz says, there might be multiple projects on one platform all promising the same thing. One might be sponsored by a nonprofit, one by individuals, and another by a business.

»Examples also exist of government agencies crowdfunding their own work – a move that some worry blurs the line between government responsibility and individual philanthropy. Last month, for instance, the Obama administration coordinated a Kickstarter fundraising campaign for Syrian refugees – the first charitable campaign hosted by the powerful online platform.

»The initiative took in nearly $1 million within 24 hours for the United Nations’ refugee agency. But critics called the effort a public relations move that distracted from other US policies related to refugees, and questioned whether the administration should be fundraising for causes that foreign aid dollars should cover.

»Lindsey Hortenstine is familiar with these arguments. As the spokeswoman for the office that provides legal help for indigent defendants in New Orleans, Ms. Hortenstine was involved in the decision earlier this year to combat a million-dollar budget shortfall, caused by cuts in state and city funding, with a crowdfunding campaign.

»It was not an easy decision, she says. Orleans Public Defenders is a government agency, serving the constitutionally mandated requirement of making sure that everyone in the criminal justice system has access to a lawyer. It struck a lot of people as wrong – offensive, really – that the public defenders would have to fundraise to do their jobs. They worried about creating a precedent of state and city governments shirking their responsibilities.

»But the office decided that a crowdfunding campaign might serve the dual goals of raising money and bringing new attention to their budget problems. They worked with Mr. Wu, of CauseVox, and set up a project page. “We wanted to make a stink,” Hortenstine says. “And I think we ended up making a pretty big stink.”

»The campaign got significant media attention. It quickly raised $80,000 – not nearly enough to cover the million-dollar shortfall, but an important amount for the office. More important, Hortenstine says, it raised a lot of questions, with many donors saying they were giving because of the emergency, but also demanding that the government take more responsibility.

»Still, the idea of government agencies crowdfunding worries Bernholz. “Crowdfunding is very fickle,” she says. “I don’t want, as a citizen, my schools dependent on the whims of the donor, my foreign aid dependent on the whims of the donor. That’s why we do things as a community and a society.”

»The technology and data behind crowdfunding platforms raise even more questions. As with Amazon and Google, algorithms help shape what users see on fundraising sites. The more people use a particular platform – and the more they interact with Facebook friends who use their own platforms – the more algorithms govern what pops up on their screens. In other words, one’s concept of social needs is shaped by technology in a way that is still fairly murky and unregulated, says Bernholz.

»“These are big questions,” she says. “Is there any visibility into these algorithms that should be public?”

»Crowdfunding may be at its best when it spawns the kind of immediate giving that only the Internet can allow. John Hecklinger, chief program officer of GlobalGiving, envisions a future in which beneficiaries will be able to give instant feedback to donors, and perhaps even make instant requests, enabled by mobile technology.

»For instance, a school in the West African country of Burkina Faso might be able to put out a request for lunch – today. And people in New York City might be able to use their phones to buy it and then get reactions from the schoolchildren and teachers as they eat. There are questions and ethics to ponder, he says, but the potential is huge.

»Doyle Melton, for her part, imagines a continuing flow of generosity, where beneficiaries become givers and givers are beneficiaries. Around the holidays, her team sets up a program called Holiday Hands on her blog. Families who need a bit of help put in a request – a toy for a child, for instance, or new clothes for older relatives. Other families sign up to help. More people always sign up to give than get, Doyle Melton says.

» A couple of years back, a woman put in a request for her daughter, Gabbie, who was having trouble making friends at school. The girl had special needs and, at 7 years old, was just starting to realize she was different, her mother said. She asked Doyle Melton’s readers to send Gabbie mail, which the girl loved opening.

»A year later, the mother showed up at one of Doyle Melton’s speeches. She stood up in the audience and said that her daughter had received thousands and thousands of letters. But something else had happened, too. In some of those letters, children explained how they also struggled to make friends and were feeling lonely and hurt at school. Gabbie wrote back to them. Thanks to crowdfunding, she had become their mentor.»

The innovation execution


«Political heavyweights are exiting DC to find a new home in Silicon Valley»

Biz Carson. Business Insider

«Chris Lehane carries with him the nickname “Master of Disaster.”

»Twenty years ago, Lehane was part of a small team that coached the Clinton administration through the Monica Lewinsky and Whitewater scandals. Their political maneuvering earned Lehane the nickname and a book deal.

»Now, 3,000 miles away from the White House and two decades removed, Lehane is leading global policy for Airbnb, a $25.5 billion startup that enables people to rent their spare bedrooms.

»His appointment is not the final resting place for his political career, but a new branch of it. Tech companies are gobbling up executives who have the political clout and connections to help build bridges to DC.

»In turn, we’re seeing these startups become more politicized too. Last month, Lehane revealed a playbook to encourage Airbnb hosts to join "clubs," which Airbnb will then turn into grassroots-lobbying organizations.

»The gulf that once existed between Silicon Valley and DC is growing smaller. The Valley has replaced Detroit as the mandatory campaign stop, Lehane says, and those in politics see the draw of the new tech economy.

»"If you could be in Florence during the Renaissance or Paris during the Enlightenment, why wouldn’t you?" Lehane questioned, although he admitted his analogy might be a bit hyperbolic.

»"History will tell us if indeed this is the equivalent or at least close to the equivalent of that, but I do think it is the epicenter of a lot of the big ideas that are driving broader issues that are driving society globally," Lehane continues. "And to be able to have a seat in the bleachers and watch that and maybe at some small levels participate in that was an amazing opportunity."

»The DC exodus

»Lehane is just one of the many political movers and shakers to make their way to private tech companies in recent years:

»• Ted Ullyot served as the former deputy assistant to President George W. Bush and chief of staff to the attorney general in the Department of Justice. He joined Facebook in 2008 as its first general counsel, trying to help the social network educate both DC and Europe about the company. Most recently joined VC firm Andreessen Horowitz as a partner to help its startups negotiate the complicated world of policy and regulation.

»• Mark Penn, the former strategist for Hillary Clinton's 2008 campaign and a pollster in Bill Clinton's earlier years, joined Microsoft in 2012 to lead special projects, where he came up with the company's anti-Google "Scroogled" campaign. He left in June 2015 to start a new private equity fund.

»• David Plouffe served as President Obama's campaign manager in the 2008 election and sculpted his campaign of hope and change. In September 2014, Uber brought on the former DC bigwig to be its senior VP of policy and strategy and lead the ride-hailing company, which had been pounded by both the press and regulators, to a more positive message.

»• Joel Kaplan, the former deputy chief of staff to George W. Bush, jumped to Facebook in 2012 to head up their public policy.

»• Kevin Martin, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission from 2005 to 2009, joined Facebook in 2015 as its VP of mobile and global access policy.

»• Jon Favreau and Tommy Vietor, a former speechwriter and a former spokesperson for President Barack Obama, respectively, opened a firm this year to help teach storytelling to startups.

»• Tucker Bounds, a former spokesperson for John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign, made a pit stop at Facebook before launching Sidewire, a political newswire company, in 2014.

»• Jill Hazelbaker, Niki Christoff, and Samantha Smith all worked on the McCain campaign before jumping to Google. (Hazelbaker later jumped to Snapchat and is now at Uber.)

»• Susan Molinari is one of the few elected officials to have served in office before they launched into tech. She started her career as a Republican representative from New York where she stayed for seven years. After working as a journalist and lobbyist, Molinari joined Google in 2012 to be its vice president of policy and public relations.

»• Lisa Jackson joined Apple to be its VP of environment, policy, and social initiatives in 2013 after serving as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency from 2009 to 2013.

»• Al Gore, the former senator and the vice president under Bill Clinton, joined Apple's board of directors in 2003 and became a partner at VC firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers in 2007.

»In the latest high-profile shift, Amazon hired another Obama executive, former White House press secretary Jay Carney, in February 2015. The move was unusual for Amazon since it's known for growing its talent internally rather than hiring from the outside, but the company gave Carney the role as senior vice president for corporate affairs.

»In his short tenure, Carney's political background has already shown through. The company, which has been notorious for declining to comment for years, took only 59 days to respond to a New York Times exposé that alleged bad working conditions for Amazon employees. Once unleashed, Carney and The New York Times engaged in public mudslinging on Medium (another tech company and publication), trading posts back and forth over the merits of the story.

»Why they make the jump

»When Ted Ullyot was working in DC in the early 2000s, the conversation around tech was still all about Microsoft and the antitrust regulation the company was facing. Technology was still considered more of a service and less of the innovation and economic driver it's seen as today, says Ullyot.

»In 2008, Ullyot jumped to Facebook — a move he says his friends questioned at the time. Facebook was still a young social network, and Ullyot was only the second person the company had hired based in DC.

»"I remember in the early days, the reaction for when I went to Facebook was ‘Why would you do that? That sounds crazy. Why would you leave DC and all this and go out to fledgling social-network company, whatever that is?'" Ullyot told Business Insider. "And now people say ‘Oh I get it. I see that’s pretty interesting. There’s some real issues you’re working on.'"

»To Ullyot, Sheryl Sandberg was exhibit A of that. Before she joined the tech sector, Sandberg spent a year at McKinsey and then left to work for Larry Summers, her former thesis adviser at Harvard, who was serving at the US Treasury Department in 1995.

»She spent five years in government before joining Google in 2001 as its VP of global online sales and operations. It wasn't until 2008 that she joined the nascent social network, Facebook.

»"There’s a long history of people in public service that then go to private sector. Maybe a decade ago they would go to Carlisle, they would go to McKinsey or maybe TPG. They would just go to some other place where it was important for them to have access," said Semil Shah, an investor-writer who created and invests out of the Haystack Fund.

»Those jobs still exist, but the tech sector gives these political figures another shining moment in the tech sector.

»"David Plouffe, can he go create another Obama? No. So he’s like 'OK, this is an interesting challenge.' And if he doesn’t do well in it, then he can go to Carlisle," Shah said.

»Lehane thinks some of the most recent job changes — and the desire for new challenges — could be attributed to the state of Washington politics. Compared to DC, he says the Valley is optimistic and full of ideas are changing the world. "It’s a place where the first instinct is to say, 'Yes, we can do it,' not 'No, we can’t do it,'" Lehane said.

»With the draw of high tech salaries and great benefits packages pitted against a lack of forward movement in the government, it's not surprising to Lehane that more DC types have moved into the tech sector.

»"You have paralysis in Washington, DC, and you have action in Silicon Valley. So for people who from a life perspective want to contribute in ways to move society forward, this is just a natural place to be," Lehane said.

With the draw of high tech salaries and great benefits packages pitted against a lack of forward movement in the government, it's not surprising to Lehane that more DC types have moved into the tech sector. "You have paralysis in Washington, DC, and you have action in Silicon Valley. So for people who from a life perspective want to contribute in ways to move society forward, this is just a natural place to be," Lehane said.

»Why startups need political handlers

»While the early movers like Lehane used to be more like translators than negotiators, startups are now learning early how to deal with regulation.

»"I think these companies realize that their very existence is not just a market battle but a political battle. The way that our regulatory systems are set up they’re just not designed to handle them well," said Edward Walker, a professor specializing in grassroots campaigning at UCLA.

»The need for political acumen is increasing because software and technology is only increasingly intersecting with every day life. Startups are now targeting sectors like transportation, water, and energy, all closely regulated areas. It gets particularly complicated when companies have to deal with a patchwork of local regulations.

»Lehane blames the DC paralysis for also pushing many of these decisions about new technology to the city and state level.

»"The other issue is [startups] have a wildly varying regulation environment across cities, so you need an incredible amount of acumen and skill to be able to navigate those wildly varying terrains across cities," Walker said. "I think the hiring of highly skilled political strategists says a lot about how much knowledge one needs about how these processes work across incredibly varying environments."

»Now startups are starting to poach former political players from other tech companies.

»Uber, for example, nabbed Plouffe from the Obama campaign, but soon thereafter, moved Plouffe to an advisory role. The company snagged Rachel Whetsone away from Google to be its new SVP of communications and policy, a position she held at the search giant after her career in British politics. Whetstone, in turn, brought on Jill Hazelbaker, another ex-Googler and former John McCain staffer, who was leading up communications and public policy at Snapchat.

»Not a one way street

»Startups aren't doing the only poaching, though.

»In 2009, President Obama created the role of US CTO, first hiring people from within government to fill the role, before naming Megan Smith as CTO in September 2014.

»The former VP of Google's special project lab, Google X, was in Africa a year ago when she got an email from Todd Park, the US CTO at the time. Thirty-three days later, Barack Obama called and asked her to come to serve in DC, Smith said during an October appearance in San Francisco.

»"I said, 'It'd be an honor, Mr. President,'" Smith told the audience.

»She doesn't condemn tech workers who move to Silicon Valley and dream of building apps — after all, that's where she came from too. But she does think tech workers should consider spending some time in government because the issues on the horizon for the US are only going to become more technical.

»"In order to form a more perfect union, it includes us and we need to show up," Smith said.

»Smith's not alone in the government. Facebook's lead open-source guy, David Recordon, left the company in March to become director of White House information technology and to bring the executive branch into 21st-century technology.

»To Andreessen Horowitz's Ullyot, tech workers need to see the role model for success, like a Recordon or a Smith, before they go to the other side.

»"Sometimes you need a model. You need to see somebody do that and be successful at it and come back with stories about how interesting it was," Ullyot said. "Due to the nature of things, it is harder to make that kind of immediate impact in Washington given the size of the federal government and bureaucracy out there than it is to come this way and be involved in a company and be immediately impactful."

»Disclosure: Jeff Bezos is an investor in Business Insider through his personal investment company Bezos Expeditions.»

An innovation


«Bernie Sanders’s New Deal Socialism»

Jedediah Purdy. The New Yorker

«Now we finally know what Bernie Sanders means by “democratic socialism.” Speaking on his political philosophy at Georgetown yesterday, the Vermont senator and Democratic Presidential candidate opened with a long invocation of Franklin Roosevelt and the social protections that the New Deal created: minimum wages, retirement benefits, banking regulation, the forty-hour workweek. Roosevelt’s opponents attacked all these good things as “socialism,” Sanders reminded his listeners.

»Curiously, Sanders seemed to agree with them, taking his definition of “socialism” from its nineteen-thirties opponents, the people Roosevelt called “economic royalists.” “Let me define for you, simply and straightforwardly, what democratic socialism means to me,” Sanders said. “It builds on what Franklin Delano Roosevelt said when he fought for guaranteed economic rights for all Americans.”

»This isn’t the first time Sanders has defined his position from the right flank of history. Pressed in the most recent Democratic debate to say how high he would take the marginal income tax, Sanders answered that it would be less than the ninety (actually ninety-two) per-cent level under the Eisenhower Administration. He added, to cheers and laughter, “I’m not that much of a socialist compared to Eisenhower.”

»But, of course, both Roosevelt and Eisenhower distinguished themselves vigorously from “socialism,” which they understood to be a revolutionary program of extreme equality, committed to centralized control of the economy, and a cat’s paw of Soviet power. Accusations of “socialism” trailed liberals for decades after Roosevelt parried his opponents, from Ronald Reagan’s attacks on Medicare to the Republicans’ refrain against Obamacare. Democrats, like Roosevelt, have furiously defended themselves against the charges. But now a candidate whose ideal American economy does in fact look a lot like Eisenhower’s—strong unions, secure employment, affordable college—is waving the red flag, and finding favor with large numbers of Democratic voters.

»The new eagerness to embrace the word reflects the climate that a Pew poll captured, in 2011, when more respondents between the ages of eighteen and twenty-nine reported a positive view of “socialism” (forty-nine per cent) than “capitalism” (forty-six per cent). (Gallup polls regularly find that a slim majority of Democrats express a positive view of socialism, but an overwhelming majority supports “free enterprise,” suggesting, charitably, some ideological flexibility.) Those under-thirty respondents are, of course, the first voters of the post-Soviet era, whose formative experiences are of a not very heroic unipolar world of American power and market-oriented ideas. The fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet empire put the word “socialism” up for grabs again: it may have landed in the dustbin of history at first, but that left it free for scavenging and repurposing.

»A decade before the Wall fell, the United States saw the quieter but also momentous collapse of the pro-government consensus that dominated the middle of the twentieth century. The Eisenhower paradox—that he was a big-government, welfarist conservative—is no paradox at all: he led the center-right at a time when the center was deeply welfarist and big-government. American politics after the Second World War was founded on the core idea of the earlier Progressive movement, which both F.D.R. and his cousin Theodore championed: the old ideals of personal liberty, economic opportunity, and civic equality could not survive in a laissez-faire industrial economy. Values once associated with small government now needed big government—the regulatory state—to preserve them. So, in 1937, F.D.R. urged that government should “solve for the individual the ever-rising problems of a complex civilization,” and, in 1965, L.B.J. echoed him, warning that “change and growth seem to tower beyond the control and even the judgment of men.” Strong government was the answer: a counter-power to wealth and to economic crisis. Their world was also Dwight Eisenhower’s.

»Ronald Reagan’s declaration, in his 1981 inaugural address, that “government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem” announced a new era. Government did not in fact shrink, thanks largely to military spending and retirement benefits, but the willingness to say that it could provide what F.D.R. had called “a permanently safe order of things,” let alone F.D.R.’s economic “Second Bill of Rights,” was almost forgotten. The market was the new all-purpose solution, even before the Soviet collapse and the subsequent elevation of disruption, innovation, and self-branding as the language of emancipation.

»So, between roughly 1979 and 1989, two figures went into the wilderness: the long-dominant American idea that strong government was necessary to humanize a market economy, and the word “socialism” as a name for a different kind of society. Exiled as opponents, they returned as friends. Bernie Sanders’s socialism is Eisenhower’s and F.D.R.’s world if Reagan had never happened: economic security updated by the continuing revolutions in gender, cultural pluralism, and the struggle for racial justice. In a word, Denmark; but also America with a counterfactual history of the last forty years.

»The mid-century political settlement between government and markets that Eisenhower took for granted never really had a name. It was not a fighting faith. “Welfare capitalism,” which is a pretty accurate name for a market system that redistributes for common benefit, sounds like the worst of both worlds. “Socialism” is historically inaccurate, and using it to name Eisenhower-era welfarism may come at the cost of further burying its other, more radical meanings. But some of the term’s appeal, as a name for Sanders’s program, is that it sounds more radical than it is. The radical label accentuates the feeling that something has gone wrong in economic life. It marks the intensity of dissent.

»In this way, Sanders’s use of the word harkens back to pre-Soviet, even pre-Marxist socialism. Then the term named a clutch of objections to industrial capitalism: the physical toll of the jobs, the equal and opposite toll of unemployment and economic crisis, widespread poverty and insecurity in a world where some lived in almost miraculous luxury. Assessing the socialists of the nineteenth century, whose programs ranged from the nationalization of industry to the creation of village coöperatives, John Stuart Mill doubted that they understood how markets worked, but he admitted their moral claims unreservedly: “The restraints of Communism would be freedom in comparison with the present condition of the majority of the human race.”

»Mill predicted that capitalism would burn out its fuel of cupidity and become a realistic version of what socialists (and communists) wanted. Worker-owned co-ops would out-compete traditional enterprises by aligning workers’ motives with the company’s success. At the same time, with poverty overcome, people would care less about getting richer, and spend their time in what Mill felt made life worthwhile in the first place: conversation, friendship, appreciation of poetry and painting. His optimism came from faith that, once people had less to fear from material want and from one another, they would find new ways to coöperate without the narrowness and cruelty of old hierarchies. He applied exactly the same premises to the relations between men and women, insisting that absolute legal equality would spur new discoveries about how to live and who to be—new creativity in gender identity (not his term but certainly his thought) and new experiments in how equals could care for one another. This humanistic faith in gender equality was one of the most accurate social prophecies in modern thought, but the same faith in egalitarian coöperation was a nonstarter in economic life.

He applied exactly the same premises to the relations between men and women, insisting that absolute legal equality would spur new discoveries about how to live and who to be—new creativity in gender identity (not his term but certainly his thought) and new experiments in how equals could care for one another. This humanistic faith in gender equality was one of the most accurate social prophecies in modern thought, but the same faith in egalitarian coöperation was a nonstarter in economic life.

»Mill was hardly alone in expecting capitalism to work out its kinks. Eisenhower’s world lacked a name for its settlement between government and markets partly because that settlement was the new normal, and the normal doesn’t need a name. Mature capitalism was supposed to produce only a moderate level of inequality. A strong government, staffed by public-minded experts, would iron out economic wrinkles. The remaining problems for reformers were remedial: bringing in previously excluded populations, especially African-Americans and isolated Appalachians. For those already on the inside, the challenges were those of what the liberal economist John Kenneth Galbraith called “the affluent society”: how to want less, enjoy life more, and help build a post-materialist paradise of humanism. It is no coincidence that L.B.J., who supported the civil-rights movement and launched the War on Poverty, also promoted the National Endowment for the Humanities to enrich the lives of those whose historical labors were over. He described his Great Society program as seeking an economy that satisfied “the desire for beauty and the hunger for community,” where “the meaning of our lives matches the marvelous products of our labor.”

»That is the lost world to which Sanders’s “socialism” points back. The return of the label, though, doesn’t mean that anyone knows how to get more radical than tacking toward Scandinavian social democracy, with its socialized health care and higher education and generous family leave. Sanders isn’t much of a socialist compared to F.D.R., either. At the heart of Roosevelt’s program was the National Labor Relations Act of 1935, which greatly strengthened the hand of unions, essential parts of every welfare-capitalist order in the twentieth century, from Scandinavia to Canada. Sanders, astonishingly, didn’t once mention unions in his Georgetown speech. Roosevelt proposed a maximum income of twenty-five thousand dollars (the equivalent of about four hundred thousand dollars today), which we won’t be hearing from Sanders. Sanders’s socialism is a national living wage, free higher education, increased taxes on the wealthy, campaign-finance reform, and strong environmental and racial-justice policies.

»This is not a program for a different kind of economy, based on coöperation and deepened democracy— what socialism used to stand for, which powered it as both a threat and a hope. The heart of Sanders’s program, like F.D.R.’s, is economic security: like F.D.R., he argues that “true freedom does not occur” without it. In the same way, he sees a strong government as protecting individualism from an economy that bats people around like the gods in Greek dramas. Calling this once mainstream idea socialism is a way of saying how far it feels from where we find ourselves now, how radical a step it would be to get back to it.»

An innovator


Vasundhara Raje, Chief Minister of Rajasthan: «Job creation is the new normal for Indian politics»

Live Mint. A Staff Writer. Photo: Reuters.

«Chief minister dwells on what she described as the Rajasthan model of development and also provides a glimpse of what lies ahead for the state.

»Ever since Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje began her second innings at the helm, she has been pushing policy change to turn the state into an attractive investment and employment-friendly destination.

»This includes the overhaul of labour laws—something which was emulated more recently by the Union government—allowing a greater role for the private sector and, at the same time, taking care to ensure the spoils of growth are shared equitably. Raje led the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to a spectacular win in the December 2013 assembly elections after narrowly losing power in 2008 and later, in tandem with Narendra Modi, ensured a complete sweep of the state in the 16th general election. In an interview to Mint, the chief minister dwelled on what she described as the Rajasthan model of development and also provided a glimpse of what lies ahead for the state.

»Edited excerpts:

»You have started your new tenure at the helm with a bang. What is your vision for the state for the remainder of your term?

»Our electoral mandate reflected an obvious unease with the status quo, but, more importantly, it reflected impatience with being left behind as some other states accelerated the creation of shared prosperity. During my last term, many of our initiatives took time to yield results and this time, we were clear that it was important to start early.

»The election campaign reinforced feedback during my time in the opposition that people were seeking holistic development and, consequently, we have conceived of a Rajasthan model of development anchored around three pillars: social justice, effective governance and job creation. I believe we don’t live in an economy but in a society; economic growth is an objective worthy of pursuit if, and only if, it benefits every citizen. However, experience suggests delivering social justice is not always possible without the resources that economic growth generates. A modern state is a welfare state that creates jobs; this need for balance is the new normal for Indian politics.

»Our social justice initiatives have various vectors: restructuring our distribution system by converting ration shops into Annapoorna Bhandars that will offer 150 products to consumers at below market prices; being the first state to amend the Right to Education Act with the objective of converting this into the Right to Learning Act; exploring PPPs (public-private partnerships) for health delivery in rural areas; rolling out the Bhamashah platform for family choice between cash and non-cash subsidies directed by the woman of the house; and driving the largest state skill mission of any country in a demand-driven partnership with 300 employers.

»The vector of effective governance started with our law reform project that has three phases: repeal, consolidation and effectiveness. The cabinet has cleared the repealing of 248 laws. This will be followed by consolidation. Example: we propose to collapse the number of higher education laws that currently stand at 75.

»The third phase of effectiveness will re-evaluate the role of each law from a citizen’s perspective. Job creation is a complex phenomenon that depends on many a complex cocktail of infrastructure, ease of doing business, labour regulation, skills and much else.

»Rajasthan was the first state to obtain presidential assent under Article 254 (2) to amend various labour laws. These have been complemented by various procedural changes such as the online single-window for industries, labour and our pollution control board. The recent ranking of state governments puts Rajasthan at six; this is a far cry from our BIMARU (Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh) status, but we have much distance to cover.

»Rajasthan is also India’s largest state, and this means we have put together a large land bank for potential investors.

»The last two years were about synthesizing the model; the next three will be about executing it.

»Your state has taken the lead in pushing second-generation reforms. Since they are politically difficult decisions, how are you handling their implementation?

»Reform in a vibrant democracy is not the solving of a sum but the painting of a picture.

»Most business people and economists underestimate the complexities and difficulties of reform arising from the political economy now that low-hanging fruit has been picked. I sense our task has been easier because our citizens recognize that some tough decisions are required for Rajasthan to catch up with the other states.

Most business people and economists underestimate the complexities and difficulties of reform arising from the political economy now that low-hanging fruit has been picked. I sense our task has been easier because our citizens recognize that some tough decisions are required for Rajasthan to catch up with the other states.

»In that sense, all our actions are largely in response to what citizens want: jobs, better government interface, more effective schools, less laws but better enforcement, and much else.

»However, every decision has multiple perspectives and all our actions have involved a deep consultative process, but it is important for every government to act on its convictions. It is my good fortune that citizens, government employees and investors are responding with energy to Rajasthan’s renewed sense of destination and destiny.

»You have embarked on a plan to overhaul the public distribution system. Again, you have approached it differently by making the private sector stakeholders. How is it working out?

»A modern state is a welfare state. But it is an important responsibility for state governments to ensure that government spending is targeted, effective and efficient. Our traditional vehicles for cash and non-cash subsidies have not only been wasted but been poor, if not humiliating, experiences for citizens. We view the overhaul of our ration shops as complement to the capabilities of the Bhamashah platform. We also view this particular partnership with the private sector for ration shops as part of an experiment in working with the private sector to harness its human capital, competencies and efficiencies for effective public service delivery. Based on results, we will explore expanding this to other areas. This does not mean state withdrawal, but I think alternate service delivery models co-existing will enable benchmarking and create the competition so important for higher levels of innovation and performance.

»What is your administration’s view on the goods and services tax (GST)? Do you think it will benefit the state?

»GST is a very important reform not only for making manufacturing competitive but also improving the ease-of-doing business. Rajasthan has been a consistent supporter of GST and all our concerns have been addressed by the centre. It is very important that this important legislative infrastructure for prosperity goes live soon.

»The 14th Finance Commission has reordered the fiscal relations between the centre and the states. How do you perceive it? How have you dealt with this fiscal empowerment?

»We don’t view the Finance Commission’s recommendations in isolation; they are part of a broader theme of co-operative federalism that involves transferring funds, functions and functionaries to state governments. India is too big and complex for single templates and the new space created for state governments makes us responsible for our own destinies. Of course, we endorse the recommendations of the Commission as we await more details around execution.

»One of the biggest challenges facing your administration is the outstanding power sector dues. What is your plan to address this?

»Power is a complex national challenge; energy subsidies are needed for many people but they must be sustainable. The current Rs.80,000 crore debt of our state electricity distribution companies is on account of the opening balance that our government inherited and is largely a child of ineffective distribution.

»We are pursuing an integrated framework for power reforms focused on the viability of distribution companies that envisages a role for the private sector under a distribution franchise model in the areas identified.

»We are also looking at partial or full divestment of some of our generation assets to raise resources and improve operational efficiencies of our genco (power generation company), besides working on debt restructuring.

»But despite these headlines, we provide industry (as also domestic and other consumers other than agricultural consumers) with 24x7 power and have embarked on a massive solar and renewable energy programme.

»We are already No. 1 in the country in solar generation capacity and our physical landscape means that this area offers us a huge energy solution that is scalable, sustainable and desirable.»

Public Administration and innovation


Newsletter L&I, n.º 79 (2015-11-23)

Administração Pública e inovação | Administración Pública e innovación |
Administration Publique et innovation | Public Administration and innovation

Um inovador | Un innovador | Un innovateur | An innovator

Uma inovação | Una innovación | Une innovation | An innovation

A execução da inovaçao | La ejecución de la innovación | L’exécution de l’innovation |
The innovation execution

Liderar Inovando (BR)

«Por que o Brasil entrou no vermelho. Como o governo ficou sem dinheiro para pagar suas contas e o que pode ser feito de imediato para resolver o problema» [web] [intro]
«Brazil Foundation busca iniciativas sociais inovadoras para financiar» [web] [intro]
«Manifesto da Educação – Planejamento para virarmos o Camboja» [web] [intro]
«10 inovações que mudaram o mercado nos últimos anos» [web] [intro]

Liderar Inovando (PT)

«Soares da Costa assume aposta na África Central na primeira assembleia em Luanda» [web] [intro]
«Dieselgate. Cerco à indústria automóvel pede alternativas. É o fim do gasóleo?» [web] [intro]
«Os têxteis que estão a mudar o mundo» [web] [intro]
«PACC suspensa, menos alunos por turma, menos carga disciplinar, menos retenções» [web] [intro]

Liderar Innovando (ES)

«Las empresas prefieren ir a Portugal pese al saldo de polígonos gallegos» [web] [intro]
Salustiano Mato, rector de la Universidad de Vigo: «Estamos gestionando el dinero de los ciudadanos y lo principal es ser responsables y gastar lo que ingresamos aunque no nos den todo lo que necesitamos» [web] [intro]
«Errores y aciertos del vino español, esperanza en el futuro» [web] [intro]
«997 millones para “menos cemento y más conocimiento”» [web] [intro]

Mener avec Innovation (FR)

«Le président chinois propose l'innovation et une économie ouverte pour stimuler la croissance mondiale» [web] [intro]
Axelle Lemaire sur la loi numérique: «Je n’aurais pas pu faire une loi de droite» [web] [intro]
«Notre statut coopératif n’est pas une contrainte mais notre force» [web] [intro]
«Quel rôle jouera l’entreprise tunisienne dans la Deuxième République» [web] [intro]

Leadership and Innovation (EN)

«It will take more than being ‘bouncy’ to fix Australia’s innovation system» [web] [intro]
«New Work of Literary Fiction Tackles Corruption in Politics and Social Hierarchy in Modern-Day India» [web] [intro]
«Innovation, Central-Bank Style» [web] [intro]
«Sensor-to-Server: Execute Locally, Communicate Globally...» [web] [intro]

Licencia Creative Commons Licencia Creative Commons
Atribución-NoComercial 4.0 Internacional


«Sensor-to-Server: Execute Locally, Communicate Globally...»

Scott Allen. FreeWave Technologies

«Being heavily entrenched in the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and Machine-to-Machine (M2M) technology markets, I often have the opportunity to speak with customers, partners, and analysts about sensor-to-server communication and what technology advances are on the horizon that will benefit the industry. A few of the hot buttons right now are big data and predictive analytics.

»The idea of comparing data in motion (at the sensor level) to data at rest (in a big data server warehouse) with predictive analytics in the cloud is very appealing to many industrial customers. The problem the big data vendors have, however, is access to that data in motion at the sensor location. Legacy SCADA systems are inadequate, and there are very few options for the local execution of predictive analytics applications to apply changes actively in the field.

The idea of comparing data in motion (at the sensor level) to data at rest (in a big data server warehouse) with predictive analytics in the cloud is very appealing to many industrial customers. The problem the big data vendors have, however, is access to that data in motion at the sensor location.

»The Access Layer

»What’s really needed is technology that provides a tiered application architecture where application platforms can be deployed at the access layers of an industrial network. It would need to have the ability to securely collect, aggregate, analyze, and transmit real-time sensor data in motion to the predictive analytics cloud, then execute commands at a local level based upon the outcome of those analytics. To do this effectively, organizations would also require specific expertise in connecting and collecting data from a wide range of sensor technologies in multiple industrial settings and from distances both short and long – and do so under extreme environmental circumstances. This is the only way that big data companies can maximize production/profitability and minimize risk/cost for their industrial clients.

»Keep in Mind...

»Deploying this type of sensor-to-server communication is best left to technology companies that have specific expertise and experience in these rugged, industrial environments, and not the big data or predictive analytics folks. At FreeWave, we welcome the opportunity to step into this new realm and deliver sensor communication platforms that are secure, intelligent, and aligned to driving the value that predictive analytics can provide to our customers.»

The innovation execution


«A venture capitalist searches for the purpose of school. Here’s what he found»

Ted Dintersmith via Valerie Strauss, The Answer Sheet blog | The Washington Post

«Ted Dintersmith is a highly successful venture capitalist and father of two who is devoting most of his time, energy and part of of his personal fortune to education-related initiatives that call for a radical remaking of what and how students learn. He organized, funded and produced the documentary Most Likely To Succeed, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2015. He, along with co-author Tony Wagner, recently released a book titled Most Likely To Succeed: Preparing Our Kids for the Innovation Era. And he is conducting a 50-state tour to encourage communities all over the country to re-think the purpose of school.

»By Ted Dintersmith

»Once in a blue moon, our nation focuses a modest amount of attention on our schools, and their purpose. Last year, William Deresiewicz’ excellently titled book Excellent Sheep triggered a flurry of discussion, as he argued that education should help students in “building a soul” after “teaching kids to think.” The Obama administration’s recent College Scorecard included information on the financial success of graduates, sparking a discussion among folks who don’t think college is about getting a big paycheck.

»With a presidential election looming, we might have expected a bit of national discussion on the topic of education. But, in the first few debates, our array of potential next presidents hardly no time on the topic of our schools, well behind Syria, the Keystone pipeline, or the candidates’ biggest weaknesses.

»The purpose of school did manage to creep onto the national radar screen when The New York Times columnist David Brooks wrote about the Sundance-selection Most Likely To Succeed film, positing that the ultimate goal of school is to erect “cathedrals of knowledge and wisdom ... based on the foundations of factual acquisition and cultural literacy.” And once again, we saw passionate views ranging from the incoherent to the eloquent about what our schools should be doing for our kids.

»A decade ago, I hadn’t given any of this much thought. I finished my formal education in 1981, which included degrees from a public high school and a state college. My family was poor, but education back then was cheap. I finished school debt-free with solid credentials, and set out on a successful career in innovation — six years with a semiconductor start-up and two decades in venture capital. During those years, if someone had asked me about education’s purpose, my response would have been superficial. The system worked for me, and I assumed it was on solid footing.

»As my career progressed, I became increasingly concerned with issues beyond my portfolio of start-ups. Immersed in innovation, I worked with driven entrepreneurs who aspired to do amazing things, and often did. But their breakthroughs were systematically eliminating jobs, and reshaping the skills needed to plug into society. I realized that our country’s big challenges — the shrinking middle class, stagnant median wages, and rampant malemployment for our graduates — are the by-product of this economic disruption.

»Something else nagged at me over my career. As a senior partner with a top-tier venture firm, I was approached frequently by people seeking career advice or position. Unable to field all requests, I gravitated toward those with exceptional academic backgrounds, which seemed like the right priority. They had stellar resumes, early career success (often in consulting, investment banking, or corporate America), and were driven to succeed. Yet such patently qualified people often proved hopeless in the world of innovation, and I couldn’t quite figure out why. Fortunately for my investing track record, I hired very few of them.

»Those concerns weren’t life-changing for me, just perplexing. After retiring at an early age, I planned to travel, get good at golf, and be an involved parent with my young children. Two seemingly inconsequential experiences, though, changed my plans.

»Early Wake-Up Call: When my son was in third grade, his science class was studying simple machines. With twenty bucks and a quick trip to Home Depot, we got everything needed to set up shop in the basement, and started playing around with boards, screws, and pulleys. One evening, we set out to design something that would let him lift a cinder block with his little finger. We came up with an approach that, I remarked in passing, he could use to lift his 250 lb. basketball coach. We laughed.

»The next week, he came home from school discouraged: “I guess I’m not good at science.” He showed me his simple-machine test, which had blobs of red ink over the question “What simple machine would you use to lift a grown man?” His response was “a six-pulley system,” and included a sketch with pulleys, rope, and stick figures of a man and a child. While the design looked sound, there was a big red X across his answer with the terse note: “ -17. LEVER ! ! ”

»After putting my Tiger Dad response behind me, I approached the teacher with a constructive suggestion: “Instead of asking which simple machine to use, why not ask students to come up with as many designs as possible?” The answer floored me. “Throughout school, these kids will need to take standardized tests. We need to prepare them properly. Open-ended questions can confuse them.”

»Decisive Wake-Up Call: When my kids were in middle school, parents received a brief e-mail inviting us to a brown-bag lunch about a “new initiative to teach your kids life skills.” In anticipation, I began jotting down ideas I thought they might cover: essential skills (e.g., inventive problem solving, teamwork, communication, figuring out complicated things), character traits (determined, resourceful, resilient, bold), and important capabilities (learning how to learn, making good decisions, setting and accomplishing ambitious goals, learning how to make your world better). With list in hand, I came to the session prepared.

»Well, it didn’t go as I expected. The transformational initiative? A mandatory monthly session with gym teachers showing young teens gruesome images to scare them away from the vice of the month. For example, to dissuade kids from smoking cigarettes, show them an assortment of tar-ridden lungs and cancer-ravaged mouths. I doubt if this initiative had permanent impact on the students, but it did on me.

»As I drove home, I found myself locked in. What is the purpose of school? How does school prepare kids for life? When the question refused to go away, I developed a plan. Historically, I focused on how my kids were doing in school, and how hard they were working. Now, I would start tracking what my kids were doing, and what skills they were developing. I ditched my golf clubs (a relief), and started reading books, watching documentaries, interviewing experts, and meeting teachers and students across all demographics and geographies. In an attempt to be systematic, I decided to categorize what I observed in schools. One column for things that helped prepare kids for life. And one column for things that were irrelevant. I expected both columns to fill up quickly.

»Irrelevant: The “Irrelevant” column filled within days, spilling onto additional pages. You will immediately associate these entries with school — factoring polynomials, memorizing the definition of mitosis, past participles, conjugating French verbs, facts about the Mesopotamians. And on and on. Things important in school, but never used in life. To prepare for exams, students had to cram bucketfuls of this easily-tested material into short-term memory. The “better” the school or the faster the track, the more to be memorized. Try as I might, though, I couldn’t connect any of this with something important in life.

»Preparing Kids for Life: For sure, students have many experiences during their school years that prepare them for life. Grades K-6 help kids learn to read, write, and perform core math operations — all of vital import. But in higher grades, only an occasional school assignment — such as writing an essay — helps build an important life skill. For the most part, life preparation occurs through experiences outside the classroom. Kids learn social skills by being around other kids. They develop passions and competencies through an after-school club or program. They learn the value of teamwork and dedication through athletics. Or they get encouragement from an adult who believes in them, and elevates their aspirations. But in the context of curriculum, the “Preparing Kids for Life” column was close to empty.

»So mountains of irrelevance and molehills of consequence. But that wasn’t the worst of it. I had to add a third column.

»Impairing Life Prospects: To my surprise, I observed a lot in school that I knew would hurt their prospects in a world of innovation. A form of anti-preparation, if you will. From my 30-year career, I was clear about what young adults will need in the 21st Century. Yet, I kept seeing variants of that darn 3rd grade simple-machines lesson. Creative expansive thinking turning into narrow, prescriptive “right answers,”. Inquisitiveness shriveling up into “Will this be on the test?” A joy for learning worn down into time-efficient hoop-jumping. A willingness to take intellectual risks morphing into formulaic responses without risk of embarrassment. Making your world better becoming a dreary requirement to pick up trash.

»And then it hit me, full force. The most innovative country on the planet is blowing it. As we move full swing into an era of innovation, the United States should be educating to our creative strengths, but instead we’re eroding the very characteristics that will enable our kids to thrive. We’re setting kids up for a life without passion, purpose, or meaningful employment. Absent profound change, our country is a decade away from having 50 million chronically-unemployed young adults, adrift in life and awash in debt.

»I was now fully consumed with this cause. I stepped up my pace, criss-crossing the country to visit schools and gain perspective. I was in hot pursuit of the right answer to the question: “What is the purpose of school?” Everywhere I looked — mission statements, meetings with school leaders, websites — I’d find sensible, even inspiring, purposes:

»• teach students cognitive and social skills,

»• teach students to think,

»• build character and soul,

»• help students in a process of self-discovery,

»• prepare students to be responsible, contributing citizens,

»• inspire students through the study of humanity’s great works,

»• prepare students for productive careers.

»I probed educators on these alternatives, trying to determine the purpose of school, as though answering an SAT question. But I gradually came to realize that this choice was poorly framed. For starters, each of these goals have merit. If some classrooms prepare students for productive careers, and others prioritize on character development, that’s a good thing. And shouldn’t we celebrate an educator who accomplishes one of these goals — not snipe over whether an alternative purpose is superior?

»But what came across loud and clear in my journeys is that schools don’t have the luxury of striving for any meaningful purpose. We’ve somehow imposed a system on our educators that requires them to:

»• cover volumes of bureaucratically-prescribed content,

»• boost scores on increasingly-pervasive standardized tests,

»• get kids through this year’s vacuous hoops to prepare for next year’s vacuous hoops,

»• produce acceptable graduation rates and college placements,

»• deal with parents who are either obsessive micro-managers or missing in action.

»How did we get here? A deep dive into the history of education helped me appreciate that our school model was brilliantly designed. Over a century ago. In 1893, Charles Eliot of Harvard and the Committee of Ten anticipated a surge of manufacturing jobs as our country moved beyond agriculture. They re-imagined the U.S. education model, ushering in a factory school model to replace the one-room school house. This path-breaking system of universal public education trained students to perform rote tasks rapidly without errors or creative variation — perfect for assembly-line jobs. The system worked spectacularly, a robust middle class emerged, and America became the world’s most powerful country.

»Somewhat incredibly, we still utilize this covered-wagon-era education model. Warning signs about its faltering effectiveness go back for decades. In 1983, the blue-ribbon report titled “A Nation At Risk” concluded that if our education system had been imposed on us by a foreign country, we’d declare it an act of war. Yet instead of reinventing the model (as the Committee of Ten did in 1893), we chose to muddle along with short-term, often counter-productive, tweaks. Teachers and students described to me endless additions to content, baffling new standards, and relentless high-stakes standardized tests of low-level cognitive skills. Our nation is hellbent on catching Singapore and South Korea on test scores — a goal those very countries have concluded is nonsensical. We’re betting millions of futures on No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top — our twin orbiting black holes of education — with annual reports on par with the season run-down for the Washington Generals.

Somewhat incredibly, we still utilize this covered-wagon-era education model. Warning signs about its faltering effectiveness go back for decades. In 1983, the blue-ribbon report titled “A Nation At Risk” concluded that if our education system had been imposed on us by a foreign country, we’d declare it an act of war. Yet instead of reinventing the model (as the Committee of Ten did in 1893), we chose to muddle along with short-term, often counter-productive, tweaks. Our nation is hellbent on catching Singapore and South Korea on test scores — a goal those very countries have concluded is nonsensical. We’re betting millions of futures on No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top — our twin orbiting black holes of education — with annual reports on par with the season run-down for the Washington Generals.

»And how much are our kids really learning? If there’s one thing I learned, it’s that they’re not learning. Practically anything.

»In my travels, I visited the Lawrenceville School, rated as one of the very best high schools in the United States. To its credit, Lawrenceville conducted a fascinating experiment a decade ago. After summer vacation, returning students retook the final exams they had completed in June for their science courses. Actually, they retook simplified versions of these exams, after faculty removed low-level “forgettable” questions The results were stunning. The average grade in June was a B+ (87 percent). When the simplified test was taken in September, the average grade plummeted to an F (58 percent). Not one student retained mastery of all key concepts they appear to have learned in June. The obvious question: if what was “learned” vanishes so quickly, was anything learned in the first place?

»The holy grail in our high schools is the Advanced Placement (AP) track. Pioneered 50 years ago by elite private schools to demonstrate the superior student progress, AP courses now pervade mainstream public schools. Over and over, well-intentioned people call for improving U.S. education by getting more of our kids — especially in poor communities — into AP courses. But do our kids learn in AP courses? In an experiment conducted by Dartmouth College, entering students with a 5 on their AP Psychology exam took the final exam from the college’s introductory Psych course. A pitiful 10 percent passed. Worse, when the AP superstars did enroll in intro Psych, they performed no better than classmates with no prior coursework in the subject area. It’s as though the AP students had learned nothing about psychology. And that’s the point.

»Along the way, I met Eric Mazur, Area Dean for Applied Physics at Harvard University, and was surprised to discover that many of our country’s most innovative ideas about education come from this one physics professor. Over a decade ago, Eric realized that even his top students (800 on SAT’s, 5 on AP Physics, A in first-year Physics at Harvard) were learning almost no real science. When asked simple questions about how the world works (e.g., what’s the flight path of a pallet of bricks dropped from the cargo hatch of a plane flying overhead?), their responses were little better than guessing. He abandoned his traditional course format (centered on memorizing formulas and definitions), and re-invented his classroom experience. His students debate each other in engaged Socratic discussion, collaborate and critique, and develop real insights into their physical universe. While his results are superb, almost all other U.S. high-school and college science classes, even at top-rated institutions, remain locked into a broken pedagogy whose main purpose is weeding kids out of these career paths.

»Systematic studies, such as the findings of Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa’s groundbreaking book “Academically Adrift,” reach similar conclusions about how little our students are learning, even at the college level. They report that “gains in student performance are disturbingly low; a pattern of limited learning is prevalent on contemporary college campuses.” Richard Keeling and Richard Hersh, in “We’re Losing Our Minds,” conclude that far too many college graduates can’t “think critically and creatively, speak and write cogently and clearly, solve problems, comprehend complex issues, accept responsibility and accountability, take the perspective of others, or meet the expectations of employers.”

»The debate about the purpose of education ignores the elephant in the classroom. We have wrapped up our schools in rote memorization, low-level testing, and misguided accountability — preventing them from achieving any real purpose. It’s a fool’s errand to debate whether students are better off memorizing and forgetting Plato’s categorization of the three parts of a human’s soul, the quadratic equation, or the definition of the Cost of Goods Sold. If classroom “learning” is a mirage, it doesn’t matter whether it’s based on “The Odyssey,” a biology textbook, AP History flashcards, or a phone book.

»At this point, a part of me felt like declaring education to be our domestic equivalent of Iraq. Maybe I’d be better off going back to my original travel-and-bad-golf plan. But, actually, I was inspired. Why? I was finding the most amazing rays of hope — schools offering powerful learning experiences. I realized moving our schools forward can happen, since we know what to do. Greatness is happening daily across our country, often in schools with scant financial resources. Our challenge is that these innovations are isolated, when they need to be ubiquitous.

»The United States now has more than 500 “Deeper Learning” schools, most in our nation’s poorest communities. Clustered into a dozen networks, these schools aren’t “cookie-cutter” replicas of each other. But in their own creative ways, they deliver exceptional learning based on shared principles:

»• self-directed learning,

»• a sense of purpose and authenticity in student experiences,

»• trust in teachers to teach to their passions and expertise,

»• a focus on essential skills (collaboration, communication, creativity, critical analysis),

»• teachers as coaches, mentors, and advisers, not as lecturers,

»• lots of project-based challenges and learning,

»• public display of meaningful student work.

»Many focus on project-based learning (PBL), a bland phrase for a powerful approach to learning. One PBL leader, High Tech High in San Diego, now includes a dozen schools spanning K through 12, and offers its own graduate school of education. Curiously, out of 1,400 schools of education in our country training our next generation of K12 teachers, only two are integral to a K=12 school. In walking the halls of HTH (and they get more than 3,000 visitors each year), I observed a school experience that doesn’t look anything like what’s taking place today in most U.S. grade 7-16 classrooms. I felt real urgency in helping more people see the power of this pedagogy.

»When it comes to PBL, two school networks are scaling rapidly with exceptional results — the New Tech Network and Expeditionary Learning. Both provide training for teachers along with a vetted curriculum, and cost-effectively transform schools or entire districts. With proven results in hundreds of schools across the country, these capable organizations can help any school advance a century in just one school year.

»A recent poll conducted by Gallup and Purdue found that a powerful predictor of life success is access to meaningful internship opportunities while in high school. Sadly, such internships are rare. Big Picture Learning, which has grown to 65 schools in more than a dozen states, has cracked the code when it comes to internships. They work with our most at-risk students, helping prepare them for life by connecting the classroom with real world opportunities. Best of all, the BPL model relies on having students drive the process to secure a meaningful internship aligned with their interests, rather than just slotting students into make-work roles.

»When it came to understanding the relationship between purpose and education, my compelling insights came from The Future Project (TFP), a 4-year-old non-profit already transforming 50 of our nation’s most challenged inner-city high schools. There’s lots of eduspeak chatter about “flipping the classroom” — kids watch boring lectures at home at night, and do low-level multiple-choice questions at school. Hardly a breakthrough, although resources like Khan Academy enable — but on their own don’t constitute — profound change. TFP’s strategy centers on a far more fundamental “flip.” They start by helping students define projects or, in their vernacular, dreams. Motivated by an ambitious personal goal, students are motivated to learn the skills, content, and character traits required to complete their self-directed initiatives. The shift in student engagement is stunning. Given a reason to learn, students bring energy to classroom assignments, and commit “free” time (including coming in on snow days!) to improve their writing, public speaking, project management, collaboration, and math skills. They connect the dots between school and their own purpose, gaining newfound respect for teachers trying to help them. They develop a conviction that they can make their world better through their passions, talents, drive, and ability to learn. Pure genius.

»So back to that purpose question. Maybe, in the end, the purpose of school is to help our kids find their own sense of purpose. To prepare them for a life where they can set, and achieve, their own goals, not grind away to meet the needs of some bureaucrat or college admissions officer. Given decades of damage from our testing and accountability strategy, maybe it’s time to place our bets on a strategy that puts its weight behind engaging and inspiring our kids . . . and teachers. Imagine what our country is capable of if we figure out how to launch millions of purpose-driven kids into society prepared and energized to their world better through their talents, passions, developing skills, and ability to learn. Kids that are, truly, prepared for life.

»Oh, and as for me, I’ve come full circle. As I reflect back on my past, I was pretty much a hoop jumper. Now, I wake up each morning with conviction. I’m trying things I never would have tried, learning about areas I never paid attention to, making more mistakes in a week than I used to make in a year, and risking failure in a visible way. I’m working much harder than I ever did as a venture capitalist, watching my bank account shrink, traveling non-stop, and not even pausing to ask whether it’s fun or not. In searching for the purpose of school, I found my own.»

An innovation