What is an Innovation Team?

"Situated in City Hall, i-teams report to the mayor and work closely with colleagues in city government, offering them a different set of tools and techniques to innovate more effectively. In partnership with these colleagues, they seek to deeply understand the problems they are trying to solve by building empathy for the people impacted by them, and then work quickly and creatively to co-create and test solutions that deliver meaningful results for residents. Mayors and city leaders are consistently turning to these i-teams to solve their city’s most pressing problems, and they are making big changes that matter.

What makes i-teams so powerful? They offer city governments the ability to solve problems in a new way. In all practicality, cities need new disciplinary approaches to initiate transformative ideas and generate real impact. Thus, by establishing dedicated i-teams, city leaders can create the space for staff to step away from their daily work and to rethink issues, reimagine outcomes, and capitalize on bold new possibilities."

– Bloomberg Philanthropies

[Psychological safety] Being able to show and employ one’s self without fear of negative consequences of self-image, status or career -
— Kahn, 1990

Our Philosophy

We don't believe that it is necessary (or frankly quite effective) to stick stringently to a set of rules but we do believe in working together as efficiently as possible. When our team works together then we can deliver the most value to our citizens.

1. A psychologically safe team.

The foundation of our team is our mutual respect for one another and our ideas. This allows team members and their contributions to be accepted and respected without fear of repercussion. Psychological safety is a belief that the team dynamic is safe for interpersonal risk taking. We would get nowhere if every team member didn't feel that they could share their ideas openly and honestly.

2. Agree, disagree and everything in between.

There is no mistaking that our jobs can be stressful. Often, we are pushing our own mental limitations to learn how to adapt to what our projects need. For us, disagreements are not unfamiliar to our office but we believe in a culture of giving one another the time and freedom to share our individual perspectives. Change and innovation can be messy, but at their core, they are nothing without a strong team bond. A strong bond also allows for each of us to be pushed back on our lines of thinking. In doing so, we can each admit and learn from our own individual biases and limited perceptions. Groupthink, yes people, and echo chambers are just a few of the organizational characteristics that we consciously work to overcome.

3. Allow both our head and heart to be informed by our experiences.

We are an information driven team and that information comes in many formats. Thus, it is important that we never limit our capability and willingness to seek out additional perspectives. We spend a lot of time examining issues both in and out of the office. We thrive on illuminating an idea, getting out and experiencing our theories in real-life situations, and bolstering our understanding through both qualitative and quantitative lens. Often, we are inspired by the approach and work of other localities and try to encapsulate that innovative thinking to bring back with us.