Created by Tyler McBrien, Council on Foreign Relations
Just like corporations and non-profit organizations, governments run on people power. While popular imagination frequently paints state, local, and national governments as monolithic bureaucratic machines, government employees in fact play key roles in crucial efforts to solve large-scale social problems like food insecurity, homelessness, and access to public education (despite often being underpaid and overworked). Government leaders around the world have realized that they are only as good as the people who work for them, and better solutions can be uncovered when partners are recruited from within the communities they represent.
The solutions in this collection highlight how governments are building more dynamic workplaces, creating spaces that are more supportive of diversity, and generally encouraging constituents to hold public offices to a high standard.
- Define the concept of 'gamification.' What are some of the pros and cons of applying this approach to government work?
- What are some of the barriers that historically kept people of color/ethnic minorities out of government work?
- SJN's Success Factors are the tactics that are critical to the success or failure of a response to a given issue or problem. A success factor can be used as an answer to the question “what social change strategy did this solution use that made it work (or not work)?” Review the local control/ownership factor and use it to analyze the solutions within this collection.
- Journalism is a collaborative practice: reporters are writing for their community, but they also depend on community members as sources for information. Indeed, the very purpose of journalism, according to the American Press Institute, is to provide citizens with the information they need to make the best possible decisions about their lives, their communities, their societies, and their governments. With that in mind, SJN wants to help connect news readers and journalists. Beside the name of the journalist on any of our story pages or the results page of the Solutions Story Tracker, you’ll find a Twitter icon that will link you directly to the journalists profile. Tweet at them with questions or compliments about their piece - you might be surprised by how much writers want to engage with their audiences! Don’t forget to tag us too (@soljourno) and use the hashtag #journalistintheclassroom if you are reading as part of an academic assignment.
- Gamification is the application of typical elements of game playing (such as point systems, competition, or rules of engagement) to other areas of activity, often to incentivize increased participation. The U.K.'s Department of Work and Pensions gamified their workplace to subvert a traditional workplace hierarchy of ideas and decision-making, and the ideas generated ultimately improved the efficiency of the office by millions of dollars. Additionally, employees who enjoy their work are more productive and miss fewer days. However, efforts to gamify employment can be met with resistance by established systems, particularly in the public sector, and the benefits might not be permanent - tactics that improve participation and involvement when they are new might loose their efficacy once the novelty of the approach wears off.
- Due to the legacy of slavery and systemic racism within American institutions, many government jobs - particularly within law enforcement - have historically been held by white men, which communicates that people of color are not welcome within those positions and departments. Cultural factors and general education regarding what these fields entail can also be a barrier: Sterling Heights police chief Dale Dwojakowski explained that many individuals within the immigrant or racial/ethnic minority communities in his city (in Sterling Heights, that includes the Chaldean, Albanian, Latinx and African-American communities) don’t traditionally consider a career in law enforcement because the idea of a government job instead of, for example, entering a family-owned business has just never been introduced to them. Targeted outreach and initiatives such as Dwojakowski's part-time training program make government work accessible to a much broader range of citizens.
- Answers will vary.