Skip to content
CPI in the news Article August 27th, 2020

The Mandarin: Admit failure already occurs: how public servants can overcome their fears and become better innovators

Partnering for Learning

We put our vision for government into practice through learning partner projects that align with our values and help reimagine government so that it works for everyone.

Partner with us


Elysa Neumann, Centre for Public Impact

+1 202-630-3383

The Mandarin: Admit failure already occurs: how public servants can overcome their fears and become better innovators

Originally published in The Mandarin.

The fear of failure stops too many government agencies trying new approaches. A new study looks at how to shift workplace cultures to do better.

Failure is a sensitive subject in the public sector — so much so that running a project about overcoming the shame of failure is itself a touchy topic.


So how can public servants become better innovators?

The report looks at how public servants can “fail forward” — learn from missteps. They find there are four steps to doing this successfully:

  • Identifying failure

  • Communicating about the failure

  • Understanding the failure

  • Taking action


Read the complete piece on The Mandarin and the Fail Forward research here.


About the Centre for Public Impact

The Centre for Public Impact is a not-for-profit founded by Boston Consulting Group. Believing that governments can and want to do better for people, we work side-by-side with governments—and all those who help them—to reimagine government, and turn ideas into action, to bring about better outcomes for everyone. We champion public servants and other changemakers who are leading this charge and develop the tools and resources they need, like our Public Impact Fundamentals, so we can build the future of government together.

About the Aspen Institute Center for Urban Innovation

The Aspen Institute Center for Urban Innovation (CUI) is a network hub that catalyzes and supports a broader movement to define values-led approaches to developing, piloting, regulating, and evaluating urban technologies.  We connect city leaders, non-profit organizations, and emerging businesses who share the belief that people deserve more than “smart cities.”  We deserve cities that promote human flourishing and digital infrastructure that enhances the experiences and opportunities that city life affords for all residents, particularly those in underserved neighborhoods.

Written by:

Elysa Neumann Director, Communications & Storytelling, North America
View biography
Share this article: