About Author

Jorrit de Jong is Lecturer in Public Policy and Management at Harvard Kennedy School (HKS). His research and teaching focus on the challenges of making the public sector more effective, efficient, equitable and responsive to social needs. Jorrit is the Faculty Director of the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative, a joint program of Harvard Business School and Harvard Kennedy School, funded by and executed in collaboration with Bloomberg Philanthropies. It is the world’s most comprehensive effort to advance effective problem-solving and innovation through executive education, research, curriculum development and field work. Dr. De Jong is also Academic Director of the Innovations in Government Program at the Kennedy School’s Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation. A specialist in experiential learning, Jorrit has taught strategic management and public problem solving in degree and executive education programs at HKS and around the world.

Before coming to Harvard, Jorrit co-founded the Kafka Brigade, a social enterprise in Europe that helps governments diagnose and remedy bureaucratic dysfunction. Before that he was director of the Center for Government Studies at Leiden University and founding co-director of a consulting firm for the public sector in Amsterdam.

Jorrit holds a PhD in Public Policy and Management (VU Amsterdam), a Master in Philosophy (Leiden) and a Master in Public Administration (Leiden). He has written extensively, including the books The State of Access: Success and Failure of Democracies to Create Equal Opportunities (Brookings 2008, co-edited); Agents of Change: Strategy and Tactics for Social Innovation (Brookings 2012, co-authored); and Dealing with Dysfunction: Innovative Problem Solving in the Public Sector (Brookings, 2016). Jorrit wrote over 25 teaching cases and designed numerous simulation exercises on collaborative governance, organizational behavior and innovation.

In 2014, Jorrit launched the Innovation Field Lab, an experiential learning and outreach project sponsored by the Ash Center that connects HKS students with five cities in Massachusetts through real problem solving efforts. In addition to co-chairing executive programs for U.S. Mayors, international Mayors and their senior aides as part of the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative, Jorrit is the faculty co-chair of two open enrollment programs: Creating Collaborative Solutions and Innovations in Governance.

Book Description

While governments around the world struggle to maintain service levels amid fiscal crises, social innovators are improving social outcomes for citizens by changing the system from within. In Agents of Change, three cutting-edge thinkers and entrepreneurs present case studies of social innovation that have led to significant social change. Drawing on original empirical research in the United States, Canada, Japan, Germany, Denmark, and the Netherlands, they examine how ordinary people accomplished extraordinary results.

Sanderijn Cels, Jorrit de Jong, and Frans Nauta offer lively illustrations and insightful interpretations of how innovators, social entrepreneurs, and change agents are dealing with powerful opponents, the burdens of bureaucracy, and the challenge of securing resources and support. With practitioners, scholars, and students of public policy and management in mind, the authors dissect the strategies and tactics that social innovators employ to navigate the risky waters of their institutional environments.

The Virtual Book Tour was brought to you by HKS Library & Research Services. As of Spring 2019, our faculty video series is called Behind the Book. Contact us with inquiries.

Jorrit de Jong:

Hello. My name is Jorrit de Jong I teach innovation in the public sector here at Harvard Kennedy school. I'm also the Academic Director for the Innovations Program here and I'm delighted to present Agents of Change, a new book that I wrote together with Sanderijn Cels and Frans Nauta.

We were interested not just in the wonderful things that innovations have done for the lives of citizens around the world, but especially in the black box of innovation. How do innovators succeed in creating these new innovations, these new practices that changed public services and law enforcements all over the world? Sometimes it's like a black box, because we don't really know what happened and how innovators dealt with the obstacles on their way. In this book, we dissect these stories of innovation, and we look a little bit deeper into the strategies and tactics that innovators have employed.

For example, in the Netherlands, Bère Miesen a social innovator, created Alzheimer Cafes. Those are meetings for people who suffer from Alzheimer and for their families. And these Alzheimer cafe's provided great opportunity for patients and their relatives to learn more about the disease. And to share ways of of dealing with that disease.

Now this was created without initial government funding. It was really a smart way of combining resources that were already available in society. What we did is we analyzed what the use of language was, what the use of timing was, what ethical dilemmas the innovators were dealing with when they were pushing their innovation. And so we made a cross-cutting analysis of eight different cases of innovation in this book. And we kind of were after a more analytical understanding of the challenges that innovators face. So we wrote this book with students of public sector innovation in mind, but also with practitioners and aspiring innovators in mind.

What are the challenges that they can anticipate if they're trying to innovate public services, and how can they understand and deal with those challenges? So besides the analytic frameworks, and the increased awareness that we hope to create with this book, we also raised a number of questions. Some of them are ethical questions.

To what extent can innovators fly under the radar? And to what extent do they need to be transparent about their real goals? To what extent should they invest in the sustainability of their innovation? And to what extent should they make sure that whatever it is, that emotion is also reversible if it doesn't work out as planned? And finally, how should they deal with taking risks if they're spending public money, and if they're using authority entrusted to them by the government and the public, how should they deal with risks that are always associated with innovation?

So these questions and more will be asked and answered in Agents of Change. And I recommended it highly. Thank you.