What is a Public Innovator? National Expert Explains Definition, Need for More People Committed to Solving Community Challenges

The Harwood Institute's Richard Harwood expert explains definition of public innovator, people’s innate desire to become catalysts for change in their communities.

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Richard C. Harwood

Public innovators are as interested in transforming how things get done as they are in moving the needle on specific challenges.

Bethesda, MD (PRWEB) April 18, 2014

Are you a public innovator? Richard Harwood, a nationally renowned expert on transforming communities and changing the country’s public discourse, explains what public innovators are and how they serve as important catalysts for change in his new blog: “What is a Public Innovator?

Public innovators are people who are engaged in their communities and are committed to solving the challenges around them, says Harwood, founder and president of the Washington, D.C.-area Harwood Institute for Public Innovation, a national nonprofit based in Bethesda, Md. The Institute teaches and coaches people and organizations to solve pressing problems and change how communities work together.

“They are as interested in transforming how things get done as they are in moving the needle on specific challenges,” says Harwood, who has guided people to become public innovators for more than 25 years. “These individuals hold and cherish firm ideals to improve society. They are equally pragmatic in wanting to see results.”

“The best public innovators never equate public innovation with creating something new or shiny,” Harwood says. “Nor do they think that the value of their public innovation is reflected in the complexity of their solutions. The challenge in communities is not a lack of complexity, but a lack of clarity.”

Harwood is on a cross-country tour, Reclaiming Main Street, that includes training 5,000 public innovators and developing a 100,000-person Public Innovator Corps by 2016. Harwood kicked off the campaign in Washington, D.C. and has traveled to cities such as Oakland, Calif., Atlanta, Ga. and Battle Creek, Mich. Harwood’s next stop is Murray, Ky. April 22. After that, he will travel to Colorado Springs, Colo., Spartanburg, S.C. and Everett County, Wash.

Throughout the tour, Harwood is addressing the acrimony and divisiveness in the country’s politics and public life and speaking with citizens about their aspirations for better lives. Harwood ultimately will share those aspirations with political leaders to provide them with a better understanding of how to improve the national dialogue.

Read Rich's blog about the campaign: "Our New Goal: 5,000 Trained Public Innovators Ready to Change the Country."

Harwood has written and spoken extensively on the country’s corrosive politics and the need to find a better way forward. His studies have chronicled the most vital issues of our time. His books include “The Work of Hope: How Individuals and Organizations Can Authentically Do Good”; “Hope Unraveled”; and “Why We’re Here: The Powerful Impact of Public Broadcasters When They Turn Outward.”

He has appeared on hundreds of media including MSNBC, NPR, CNN's Inside Politics and the Don Lemon Show, The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, Special Report with Brit Hume, C-SPAN and in international press such as German Public Radio, China Central Television and Voice of Russia Radio.

The blog: What is a Public Innovator?

By Richard Harwood

There’s an old adage that half of life is just showing up. Perhaps there’s some truth to that. But what about the other half? For public innovators, it’s critical. One of the key things that distinguishes public innovators is how they engage in the world around them.

I’ve been guiding people to become public innovators for over 25 years. Public innovators focus on how they can solve problems in communities and change how people and organizations work together. They are as interested in transforming how things get done as they are in moving the needle on specific challenges. These individuals hold and cherish firm ideals to improve society. They are equally pragmatic in wanting to see results. And they understand the necessity of taking risks but not foolhardy ones. Read more


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