Shining a light on the tools and techniques of innovation

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Name: Steve Pleasant

Title: Innovation Team Lead

City: Hillsboro, Ore.

When Steve Pleasant thinks about his role in helping city staff in Hillsboro solve problems in new ways, it reminds him of when, as a kid, he used to hold the flashlight for his dad as he did repairs around the house. “Frontline employees know the problems the best,” he said. “So I hold the flashlight. I show them the tools and techniques of innovation, and then guide them through the process to make sure the change sticks.” One way Pleasant does this through an annual “Eureka! Challenge.” The program pulls six employees from across city departments out of their day-to-day jobs for a month to tackle one “wicked problem” using tools like prototyping and human-centered design. Last year’s team created a pilot for something administrators had long wanted but had never gotten off the ground: a mentorship program. And that pilot, which included 16 mentor-mentee teams, resulted in the launch of a larger program in May. “We’ve had a great response from the city,” Pleasant said. “It’s wonderful to see the hunger of city employees to be a part of these efforts.”

“Don’t try to own innovation–it’s not a tool that lives only in your office. You’ll see a broader impact when you enable other departments to use these tools themselves.”

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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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