Governments today - at the federal, state, and local level – must accomplish more with fewer resources while ensuring taxpayer funds are wisely spent. Decision making and problem solving often rely on institutional inertia and a top-down managerial approach, making the entire organization less responsive to constituent demands. By contrast, startup businesses and entrepreneurs generally embrace innovative solutions that leverage unique insights into action, regardless of where those insights come from. In short, governments tend to operate as a hierarchy; entrepreneurs and startups tend to operate as a network. The challenge is how to apply an entrepreneurial mindset and skillset to the public sector to both spur innovation and manage resources, creating workable solutions to pressing problems.
The innovative Governmental Entrepreneurial Leadership Accelerator (GELA) fellowship explores a new model of governmental problem solving and leadership development, graduating 30 fellows in 2 years, building a new model of professional development and collaboration. GELA begins with a boot camp, which integrates a range of books and articles, guest speakers from the entrepreneurial community and hands-on exercises. This boot camp was followed by six weeks of work on difficult city problems, from bridging the digital divide to addressing overdoses from the opioid epidemic. During pitch night, fellows pitched their ideas to public sector leaders such as Mayor Hancock and Stephanie Copeland, a member of the governor’s cabinet.