Visualizing Jobs of the Future: Putting People at the Center in the Future of Work

Visualizing Jobs of the Future: Putting People at the Center in the Future of Work

It is clear there is not a consensus on what the overall job loss or creation impact of emerging technologies could be with wide ranging estimates of across sectors. Further, while predictions for job loss like these abound, there are far fewer organizations working on envisioning the future of work and the jobs of the future that will employ the workforce of the future as current jobs are changed by automation and other emerging technologies. 

This is where I’ve focused my research with my digitalHKS research fellowship. Since January 2018 I’ve been collaborating with Bill Eggers and Amrita Datar from the Deloitte Center for Government insights to humanize the future of work and visualize the impact of technology on jobs to empower organizations, employees, and individuals to create a more positive future. 

Eight Common Challenges to Scaling Innovation

Eight Common Challenges to Scaling Innovation

Implementing an innovative approach within the federal government takes relentlessness, stamina, and strategy. It can be incredibly lonely. You are often your own best champion. It can feel impossible-- like being the underdog trying to win a sporting match. But after all the frustrations and setbacks, when you win that first match it is also overwhelmingly satisfying.

But for the change agents in government, winning the first match is not enough. To make innovative approaches more routine, winning one match is just the beginning. The scaling challenge begins when you try to win over and over—and when you try to get more people to join your team.

Reflecting on the "end" of the Obama OSTP

Reflecting on the "end" of the Obama OSTP

Last night The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy held its farewell party for all current staff and Obama Administration OSTP Alumni. It was extremely bitter sweet. 

On one hand I feel SO proud and grateful to have worked for the most science and technology literate President and the most ambitious Science Advisor in my lifetime thus far; I feel so lucky to have worked closely with the concentration of high caliber colleagues and friends at OSTP working to empower a network of innovators within and outside government, to deliver sound science and technology policy on a staggering number of topics, and build coalitions to accelerate and sustain policy implementation. This A-team group of alumni won't stop working for good even if they're no longer in the White House.

Collaboration Gives Federal Government Citizen Science and Crowdsourcing a New Home on the Web

Collaboration Gives Federal Government Citizen Science and Crowdsourcing a New Home on the Web

Yesterday, in conjunction with the 6th White House Science Fair, the White House announced that the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) has partnered with the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars (WWICS), a Trust instrumentality of the U.S. Government, to launch as the new hub for citizen science and crowdsourcing initiatives in the public sector.

The People and Teams that Power High-Impact Incentive Prizes

The Administration is helping organize two events this week to celebrate the success of, recognize the importance of public-sector prizes, and catalyze the next-generation of ambitious prizes. On Wednesday, October 7, the White House, the Case Foundation, the Joyce Foundation, and Georgetown University will host an event titled “All Hands on Deck: Solving Complex Problems through Prizes and Challenges” that will provide Federal, state, and local government leaders and private-sector supporters with information and tools on how to effectively use incentive prizes to improve outcomes in addressing complex social, policy, and technological challenges in national priority areas. On Thursday, October 8, the General Services Administration will host a community of more than 300 prize practitioners to celebrate the great accomplishments of public-sector prizes at a five-year anniversary event for

This October, the White House Celebrates Over $150 Million in Prize Competitions Since 2010

This October, the White House Celebrates Over $150 Million in Prize Competitions Since 2010

To celebrate the accomplishments of prize competitions and to inspire the next generation of ambitious, cross-sector prizes, the White House, the General Services Administration (GSA), nonprofits, and academic institutions will host back-to-back events in Washington, DC, one on October 7 and the other on October 8, in Washington DC.  These two events will highlight the impact of open innovation in the Federal government and across sectors, as well as celebrate the successes of

Open Science and Innovation: Of the People, By the People, For the People

Open Science and Innovation: Of the People, By the People, For the People

Only a small fraction of Americans are formally trained as “scientists.” But that doesn’t mean that only a small fraction of Americans can participate in scientific discovery and innovation.  Citizen science and crowdsourcing are approaches that educate, engage, and empower the public to apply their curiosity and talents to a wide range of real-world problems. To raise awareness of these tools and encourage more Americans to take advantage of them, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the Domestic Policy Council will host “Open Science and Innovation: Of the People, By the People, For the People,” a live-webcast forum, on Wednesday, September 30th.

Accelerating the Use of Prizes to Address Tough Challenges

To build on momentum, the Administration will hold an event this fall to highlight the role that prizes play in solving critical national and global issues. The event will showcase public- and private-sector relevant commitments from Federal, state, and local agencies, companies, foundations, universities, and non-profits. 

Public Sector Prizes and Challenges Show Increased Sophistication, Ambition and Use: A Fiscal Year 2014 Progress Report

Public Sector Prizes and Challenges Show Increased Sophistication, Ambition and Use: A Fiscal Year 2014 Progress Report

Today, OSTP released its fourth annual comprehensive report detailing the use of prize competitions and challenges by Federal agencies to spur innovation, engage citizen solvers, address tough problems, and advance their core missions. This report details the remarkable results from 97 prize competitions and challenges offered by 30 agencies under a variety of authorities in FY 2014 as required by Section 105 of the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010 (COMPETES) added Section 24 (Prize Competitions) to the Stevenson-Wydler Technology Innovation Act of 1980 (Stevenson-Wydler).

21st-Century Public Servants: Using Prizes and Challenges to Spur Innovation

21st-Century Public Servants: Using Prizes and Challenges to Spur Innovation

Last month, the program at the General Services Administration (GSA), the Office of Personnel Management (OPM)’s Innovation Lab, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), and a core team of Federal leaders in the prize-practitioner community began collaborating with the Federal Community of Practice for Challenges and Prizes to develop the other half of the open innovation toolkit, the prizes and challenges toolkit. In developing this toolkit, OSTP and GSA are thinking not only about the information and process resources that would be helpful to empower 21st-century public servants using these tools, but also how we help connect these people to one another to add another meaningful layer to the learning environment.

Citizen Science is Everywhere, including the White House

Citizen Science is Everywhere, including the White House

The 5th White House Science Fair, the gave the Obama Administration and a broader community of companies, non-profits, and others an opportunity to announce new steps to increase the ability of students and members of the public to participate in the scientific process through citizen science.  One of these commitments came from the White House itself, showing that anyone, anywhere can participate in citizen science!

Citizen Science Contributes to Advances in Scientific Understanding

Citizen Science Contributes to Advances in Scientific Understanding

Every day, citizens like you help career scientists advance scientific discovery and understanding of the world around us. Two recent success stories demonstrate the enormous value of citizen science contributions. 

Designing a Citizen Science and Crowdsourcing Toolkit for the Federal Government

Designing a Citizen Science and Crowdsourcing Toolkit for the Federal Government

On November 21, 2014, the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) kicked off development of the Toolkit with a human-centered design workshop. Human-centered design is a multi-stage process that requires product designers to engage with different stakeholders in creating, iteratively testing, and refining their product designs. The workshop was planned and executed in partnership with the Office of Personnel Management’s human-centered design practice known as “The Lab” and the Federal Community of Practice on Crowdsourcing and Citizen Science (FCPCCS), a growing network of more than 100 employees from more than 20 Federal agencies.

Featured in Popular Mechanics: How to Make NASA Cool Again

  Photo Courtesy of Philip Friedman

I am honored to be featured in the the August 2014 issue of Popular Mechanics. This issue has a series about "How to Make Anything". NASA's work in prizes, challenges and crowdsourcing is featured in a piece entitled: "How to Make NASA Cool Again".

Here's the text:

"At some point between the Challenger explosion in 1986 and the end of the manned shuttle program in 2011, NASA became uncool. Once regarded as the wild geniuses leading us bravely into the future, the agency earned a reputation as insular, wasteful, and out of touch.

Naturally, they're looking to change that perception. The agency recently expanded its use of challenges and crowdsourcing to include more opportunities for regular Joes (citizen scientists, if you can bear the term) to submit their ideas. In 2012, it also hired Jenn Gustetic, a vivacious woman with an aerospace engineering degree and a master's in technology policy from MIT, to engage the public as the first-ever Challenges and Prizes program executive.

In this role, Gustetic, 32, uses her brains, charm, and wicked networking skills to increase grassroots participation in NASA's far-ranging mission. In the process, she's breaking down the wall that once separated a massive bureaucracy from the people it was supposed to serve. "It's my role to engage the public and put together nontraditional alliances to solve tough technology problems," she says. "NASA is opening itself up. We're inviting the public to be a meaningful participant in our business, our projects. This wasn't the way things were done, but it's the norm now."

One little problem Gustetic is helping to solve is the threat of an asteroid impact, which NASA has deemed worthy of intensive study as part of a larger initiative that includes not only redirecting space rocks but also sending humans to study them. The Asteroid Data Hunter contest, which wrapped in August, offered awards of up to $35,000 to individuals who advance the development of algorithms to identify asteroids in imagery from ground-based telescopes.

Another of Gustetic's responsibilities is to rally teams for NASA's International Space Apps Challenge. This year, more than 8,000 people in 95 cities took part in the third annual two-day hackathon to develop tech related to deep-space exploration, manned missions, rovers and more. "It was a historic collaboration between a government and the public," says Mike Caprio, cofounder of Space Apps NYC, the main stage of this year's event. Teams of technologists of every stripe, from computer programmers to physicists, arrived at universities and labs all over the world to compete. After a long weekend, a few left with impressive CV fodder. The rest left impressed with their host."

Beyond Hackathons: Using Design Thinking to Address Local Challenges with DT:DC’s Summer of Design

Today, apps contests, hackathons and data jams abound at the federal, state and local level in both government and industry. These engagements seek to harness the intellectual power of increasingly capable and bountiful developers, increase customer and public engagement with brands and government agencies, and solve tough problems while stimulating spinoff innovation while they’re at it. But what if you’re not a developer? What if the problem isn’t only one of data and technology? How might other skill sets and problem solving processes be used to amplify the effectiveness of challenges in developing sustainable, appropriate solutions?

More specifically: How might we channel the energy and potential of 1300+ passionate designers, innovators, entrepreneurs and technologists in the DC community thirsting for (1) new skills and tools in recognition of new trends in that ways we work within society and (2) productive ways to apply those skills and contribute to the numerous problems our local community faces?

This summer, Design Thinking DC (DT:DC) is testing a pretty radical hypothesis about how to build upon the practices of challenge-driven open innovation, crowdsourcing, and design thinking to make local impact through our Summer of Design:

Hypothesis: Our community can make significant headway on a number of wicked problems that local organizations and stakeholders face through the application of a Design Thinking process and a volunteer based, challenge-driven approach. 

Outside of my “day job” (federal open government, open innovation and incentive prizes), for the last two years I’ve been helping to co-organize the design thinking community in DC through DT:DC founded by Stephanie Rowe in 2011. This community has steadily grown to more than 1300 people today. DT:DC’s Summer of Design is an attempt to test the hypothesis articulated above through a series of events in which volunteers from DT:DC apply design thinking techniques to real problems faced by organizations in our local community.

This team-based design competition was structured to include introductory workshops on design thinking and prototyping and a six-week design challenge. After the workshops, each team works independently and structures its own approach to researching, prototyping and designing their solution to the design challenge they’re addressing. Through a competitive application process, DT:DC selected challenge organizations earlier this summer who have design and/or business challenges that would benefit from the multidisciplinary collaboration, thinking and prototyping of our Summer of Design volunteer teams. We announced those design challenges last night at 1776 at a kick-off event sponsored by the DC Department of Small and Local Business Development. We are happy to share that we have an incredibly diverse and rich set of challenges for the design teams to address over the coming weeks including:

Title: Leveraging Open Data to Drive Better Decision Making

Challenge Organization: DC Action for Children

Design Challenge: How might we help at-risk children in DC by connecting the people who serve them to the data they need to be change-makers in key policy areas like education, health and poverty-reduction?

Title: Rapid Information Gathering in Crisis Situations

Challenge Organization: Internews

Design Challenge: How might we redesign the way we collect critical information in crisis situations, such as natural disasters, to quickly understand and fulfill the needs of those directly affected by the crisis?

Title: Inspiring Government Performance

Challenge Organization: Performance Improvement Council

Design Challenge: How might the PIC reintroduce and rebrand Performance Management to government employees so that they are better equipped to identify, solve, and communicate the current and emerging wicked problems facing US citizens?

While the DTDC Summer of Design Leadership Team (Dawan Stanford, Arty Rivera, Wendi Chiong, Brent Davidson, Nathan Ritter, Stephanie Wade, Ryann Hoffman, and yours truly) has worked diligently to design the challenges with the organizations, structure the check-ins throughout the design period, and facilitate workshops to familiarize participants with design thinking methods, the next stage of the Summer of Design is largely up to the teams. For the next 6 weeks our teams will be working to develop solutions to these design challenges following a design thinking process. Winners for each challenge will be announced in September. The energy is palpable now that the teams have been unleashed on the challenges and we’re excited to see what they come up with!

By the end of the fall, after the conclusion of Summer of Design and the initial indications from the partner organizations about the sustainability of the solutions, we hope to have a variety of rich insights:

  1. Beyond hackathons: Are curated design challenges an effective means for channeling local engagement beyond “apps contests”, “hackathons”, single volunteer events, town halls, etc…? What’s the anatomy of a successful design challenge?
  2. Participation rates and incentives: What percentage of our local DC design community ultimately self-selected to participate in this type of intense, case based activity? Why did they self-select? What did the drop out rate look like? What incentive structures attracted meaningful participation? How could this scale to other cities?
  3. Problem suitability: What types of local, wicked problems can be meaningfully re-thought through a design thinking approach? Where does this approach to problem solving have maximum impact relative to other problem solving methods?
  4. Viability of approach: What are the cultural or political challenges that organizations face that raise fear and prevent them from innovating? How can we successfully introduce and harness the enthusiasm volunteers have to develop appropriate solutions when working in an open source format?

We look forward to sharing these insights and other with you as the Summer of Design progresses. So what’s your prediction? Will our hypothesis be correct?



Championing Change in Gov: Why Can’t Government be Both Functional and Beautiful?

It’s not impossible. Government CAN BE both functional and beautiful. Today the White House hosted a Champions of Change event in Washington DC highlighting thirteen local government innovators that are doing just that.  According to Gov Tech, these champions have “worked to build a better future for their citizens, create jobs in their community, and ensure more efficient and effective government by making information and public data more accessible”. The folks highlighted today understand that true local innovation—changing the paradigm of the citizen’s relationship with its government—is not just as simple as creating “an app for that”.

Figure 1: Some Features of Transformative Local Innovations

When citizen engagement, crowdsourcing, and design thinking are also considered in the innovation process, truly transformative approaches to local government emerge that are changing the way we can think about what’s possible in governing. An app might be the mechanism, but how to build in engagement and design are lessons that many government agencies are still learning. When governments do this however, innovation efforts result in citizens who find more value from, participate in, and contribute to their community’s well being. According to Doug Matthews from Austin, Texas, almost as important as the function of a tool/product is the beauty of that function. The innovators highlighted today understand that well-designed government innovations should be many things, not just functional:

  • Innovative
  • A useful product
  • Aesthetic
  • An understandable product
  • Unobtrusive
  • Honest (don’t make promises you can’t keep)
  • Long lasting
  • Thorough
  • Environmentally friendly
  • As little design as possible (focus on only the essential elements)

Seeing Design Thinking in action in local communities around the US is incredibly gratifying. Design Thinking in and of itself has become a movement over the last several years spearheaded by the likes of the Stanford Design School and design firm IDEO (Disclaimer: Last year I kicked off a Design Thinking DC Meetup Group with a friend and colleague, Stephanie Rowe, to get this conversation going in DC). But when COMBINED with the other tactics we’re seeing these local governments use—Design Thinking becomes a force multiplier for real, honest to goodness impact in people’s lives.

As an example of the types of local innovations described by the champions, we turn to Boston, Massachusetts. Many cities have been collecting complaints and service requests through 311 programs for years. In recent years, inspired by the DC government’s pioneering efforts in open data (shout out to @kachok), many cities started opening up that data through open311 platforms. However, 311 data is only ONE source of data for what is truly happening in a city. Nigel Jacob and Chris Osgood from Boston, Massachusetts are pursuing ways to augment 311 data with other sources of data about the city—that comes from the palm of your hand.

Street Bump is a new app that turns mobile phone accelerometer data into a pothole service request to the local government. An accelerometer collects A LOT of data. So to identify when the vast amounts of data collected by the device indicated there was a “pothole”, Boston partnered with Innocentive to run a prize competition for an algorithm. Equipped with lots of potential data and an algorithm to analyze that data, Boston leveraged Design Thinking principles, working with IDEO, to design an app that would create an experience to enable data sharing with the government. Boston, using mobile phone technology that residents have already invested in, is experimenting with crowdsourcing additional data to compliment the 311 data set to better address service needs in the city.

It’s important to understand their process here: they did NOT go straight to an app. They made sure they had the data sources, the algorithm, the design and the public experience pieces figured out before they developed the tech.

Many other examples of this approach in action were highlighted today at the White House event as well. As Todd Park, the US CTO, said, “We’re not seeing one bright light; today demonstrates there is a constellation of bright lights. This is a movement. It’s extremely exciting.”

What other examples do you know of where government is being transformed—at any level—to be more functional AND beautiful through better design, use of IT, and citizen engagement?

As always please feel free to reach out in the comments section or to @jenngustetic to discuss further. Thanks for reading!



SXSWi on Science, Crowdsourcing, Space and Good Music


So I arrived in Austin, Texas for SXSWi late last night and I’m up early to get prepared for what looks like a very long, very awesome day. I’ll be sharing my notes from the sessions I attend like I did last year, so stay tuned for some virtual sharing. You can access the notes I'm adding to in real time during the sessions in this google doc. I've attended (or will attend) the following panels thus far:

Stay tuned for my schedule for the other days... I'll post throughout the conference. Also, feel free to follow me on twitter (@jenngustetic) if you want to see the sessions live tweeted and tweet me questions to ask the panelists.


Government as a Catalyst: Prizes for Tech Innovation


At this year’s South by South West Interactive (SXSWi) conference, I’m pleased to be moderating a panel on the role of government and prizes in stimulating technology innovation and providing public services. Federal agencies have recently been given the authority by Congress to sponsor competitions for individuals, groups, and companies to develop new ideas and technology innovations for a chance to win potentially lucrative prizes. These competitions can range from new mobile outreach technologies to web-based data analytics tools to even vehicle-to-vehicle communications; the government is looking for breakthrough technologies from the minds of the most creative and forward thinking Americans.

The panel will highlight some of the coolest prizes for technology development that the government has been involved in to date, including the DOT’s Connected Vehicle Challenge, the VA’s industry competition and blue button projects, and NASA’s centennial challenges. Additionally we will explore what role the government should be playing in these activities moving forward by looking at some prizes where the government did not have a role.

Here’s a sneak preview about what you’ll hear if you come spend an hour with us. We believe prizes matter for many reasons, but we’ll focus on four during the session:

  1. They work. How can we be so sure? You’ll hear about a series of prizes from NASA, VA, and DOT that demonstrate the value of government sponsored prizes.
  2. They complement other innovation methods. There are many ways to stimulate technology development and many actors are involved in doing so. It doesn’t happen very often however that government gets a BRAND NEW way to stimulate innovation—and prizes are just that. Prizes are a new way for government to stimulate technology development that compliments other, traditional methods for innovation. We’ll give some interesting examples of where prizes work with other innovation methods in government to create some really cool results.
  3. They're becoming a way of doing business. If government is spending money and doing business this way, entrepreneurs and industry alike should be paying attention. Imagine a world where as much money flows through an organization through prizes as it does through contracts. Now that’s big business.
  4. They're exposing different roles for Government. Government does not always need to have a role for prizes to work however. The question no longer is CAN government have a role, but SHOULD they. The private sector is increasingly involved in activities that affect the public good and people WANT to get engaged in the public good. We believe this may create room for the public sector to disengage or interesting public-private partnerships to form. We’ll talk about some instances where this is happening.

Our impressive lineup of panelists includes Chris Gerty from NASA (@gerty), Mari Kuraishi from Global Giving (@mashenka), Michael O'Neill from the U.S. Veteran's Administration (@mdoneill), James Pol from the US Department of Transportation (@polgmu), and me as your humble moderator (@jenngustetic). The panel is on Tuesday March 13 at 11AM at the AT&T Conference Hotel—if you can join us, let us know through Plancast. Alternatively, we’ll also be tweeting and you can follow our session at #SXTechPrize live during the session.

Have questions for the panelists? Let me know and I’ll make sure to ask them for you if you send in advance.

Hope to see you there!


(Note: Originally posted on the Phase One Consulting Group, Government Transformation Blog for a special featured Govloop series when I was an employee there.