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Failing Forward in Local Government

In government, learning from failure is the critical link between innovation and impact

The Centre for Public Impact and the Aspen Institute Center for Urban Innovation are working together to understand how local governments can fail forward and are supporting cities as they catalyze cultures of innovation.

Translating innovation to impact

Failure is at the root of any successful innovation project, but local governments’ ability to identify, learn from, and do something about failures are limited by budgeting and longstanding cultures of risk aversion. We know that cities will need to innovate if they are to meet the great challenges of our time - this project aims to help them actually translate innovation to impact.

Read the fail forward report

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Research and interviews

We are seeking perspectives and expertise on all aspects of failing forward.

If you currently work in or with government, or if you have private or social sector experience that is relevant and you are interested in sharing your thoughts on this topic, we’d love to hear from you.

Get in touch

Fail Forward in action

Wondering what failing forward looks like in practice? Slide through and read takeaways from our seven participating cities:

Washington D.C

"I am seeing the development of more workgroups within the agency that are inclusive and represent the voice of the agency and this will greatly impact efforts toward process improvement and service delivery"

D.C. Government Employee

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"[We need to take] baby steps if we create an idea and walk it through before we move on or call it dead".

Dallas Government Employee

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"Our staff have a need to share failures without outside consultation. It's encouraging to know we want to lead the process ourselves."

Seattle Government Employee

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King County

"Every failure can be valuable: failing forward means not only learning from mistakes, but also planning for them"

King County Government Employee

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Little Rock

"[I'm now able] to look at a failed process and not take it as personal failing"

Little Rock Government Employee

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Kansas City

"I believe that this will empower staff to make changes without a fear of failure and with the ability to bring changes to upper management"

Kansas City Government Employee

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Explore Partnership Opportunities

If your organisation is interested in partnering with the Centre for Public Impact to build cultures that embrace learning from failure in government, please contact us.

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We thank our strategic partners: