The relentless focus on what users need and how they experience services brings people into the process of providing feedback for services where they have not traditionally had a voice. For nonprofit leaders, it creates a place to review their rules, forms, and theories. For example, Marina Nitze, former CTO of the US Department of Veterans Affairs, assembled her colleagues and asked veterans to demonstrate what it’s like to try to access the department’s 62 benefits programs on a computer without high-speed Internet.
In the news
Today's technology companies are under pressure from young, idealistic staffers to do good. It's no longer enough to just cut a check and put a company's name on the donor wall at prestigious cultural institutions. At business intelligence software giant Tableau Software, the company has been using its data science powers for good since 2014, when it set up the Tableau Foundation.
In late February, the city of Abilene, Texas, made an announcement: It had ended local veteran homelessness. It was the first community in the state and the ninth in the country to reach that goal, as part of a national program called Built for Zero. Now, through the same program, Abilene is working to end chronic homelessness. While homelessness might often be seen as an intractable problem because of its complexity–or one that costs more to solve than communities can afford–the program is proving that is not the case.
Networks are by no means a panacea for solving intractable problems. We heard many stories of places unable to take advantage of the benefits of network participation due to a lack of local bandwidth and resources, and also the lack of alignment with local organizational priorities. We also heard of “network fatigue” where places were so active on the national stage that their ability to focus and deliver at the local level was diminished.