Amplifying the impact of a small team by collaborating with others

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Name: Ryan Smith

Title: Innovation Team Director

City: Durham, N.C.

The Durham innovation team has found the secret to using a small staff to deliver big results. Ryan Smith calls it “dynamic collaboration.” It means amplifying one’s impact by working closely with others, both in and out of City Hall. “My job is to solve for our own limitations, because our team is small,” Smith said. “I build partnerships that can help address those challenges so that we can accomplish more.” Take the Durham Expunction and Restoration Program, which is working to help justice-involved residents find jobs and housing by expunging criminal records and restoring driver’s licenses. Thanks to the partnerships Smith helped forge with the District Attorney’s office, judges, Legal Aid, and others, what started as a pilot run through his mobile phone has evolved into a transformative effort to give people a second chance. More than 35,000 people have seen traffic charges or unpaid traffic tickets dismissed. “We’re taking the resources of our team and the resources of the greater community and are lining them up in a way to get more work done.”

“Beware of individuals who have so much experience that they think they’ve already tried everything. But also approach them with deference and a willingness to learn.”

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Celebrating public sector progress and innovation in cities around the world. Run by @BloombergDotOrg’s Government Innovation program. bloombergcities.org

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