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About the Governance Innovation Initiative

MIT GOV/LAB is embarking on a research initiative to design the future of governance through a series of case studies, engagements with thought leaders in governance and innovation, as well as the co-designing of governance innovation solutions through a Lean Governance Innovation Design (LGID) approach.

LGID is a hybrid of learnings from design thinking, behavioral science, systems thinking, and entrepreneurial methods, with a heavy focus on designing to improve the relationship between government and citizens. LGID aims to remove the risk and barriers for government and society to collectively imagine better futures. It’s fast, low-cost, and easy to run, and it’s an iterative approach designed with the Global South for the Global South. We’re also using these cross-disciplinary methods of inquiry, to understand how to spark and sustain innovation in bureaucracies in the Global South. The evidence will help build government capacity to address the grievances of a new generation of tech-savvy citizens.

We’re doing this through a designing while researching approach:

Building capacity by co-designing solutions

We’re co-designing innovative solutions with government officials, as we iterate on our methods. Through this learning-by-doing approach, we are able to document pathways as well as the bottlenecks to innovation in the public sector.

Documenting processes and existing governance innovation

We are documenting our work through a series of case studies that focus on how we get from co-identification of problems to co-designing solutions through LGID. In addition to that, we’re documenting what has worked before and what hasn’t by commissioning a series of innovation case studies. We’re also researching governance innovation beyond the traditional bureaucratic systems: in slum dwellings, in refugee camps, and other complex settings.

Public service innovation as a catalyst for improved distribution of power

We focus on national and subnational levels, including city governments, specifically in the Global South. Our focus is on public services (health, education, security, etc.) as these are some of the most direct forms of interaction between citizens and public officials. This frontline interaction makes public services a space where citizen demands create an aperture for innovative service design and improved governance. Through this new approach, we expect that public officials in a wide range of bureaucracies will be able to propose and act on new ways of designing governance products, services, and experiences.

Image: Associate Director of Innovation, MIT GOV/LAB, Carlos Centeno in conversation with officials from Directorate of Science, Technology and Innovation (DSTI), Sierra Leone. Credits: DSTI, Sierra Leone.