Civic Innovation Through Collaboration

April marks the halfway point on the City of Sioux Falls’ partnership with the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative on the program’s innovation track.

In November 2018, a facilitator and coach provided by Bloomberg Philanthropies began teaching a cross-functional group of 14 City employees on methodology to solve problems through ideation and innovation. This Core Team is working together to find innovative solutions to big problems by working closely with the public.

Ultimately, the program is teaching City employees an innovation methodology that can be applied to a variety of problems. “We can be more innovative by solving problems with our community, rather than for it,” says Mike Gramlick, Fire Captain for Sioux Falls Fire Rescue and a member of the Core Team.

Their first project using the new methodology is public transportation. After diving into the curriculum, the Core Team interviewed a variety of stakeholders including bus riders, car drivers, employers, and homebuilders to gather an informational foundation on transit challenges to gather solutions and proposals.

Based on the qualitative and quantitative data collected, the Core Team has framed the focus for public transportation as discovering how to improve the economic benefit of the public transit system for both residents and the City.

After identifying the core problem, the brainstorming began. The Core Team led ideation sessions with more than 40 community members. Together they worked to generate creative solutions, like adding kiosks for purchasing fares or providing real-time bus information via a mobile app.

Next, the Core Team will prioritize one or two solutions and work with internal teams to prototype. They will also work to educate other City teams on how working together with the public and other City departments can result in innovative ideas.

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