Session 7: Situational Briefing & Taking Risks Responsibly and Innovating in Real Time: Possibility Government in a Pandemic

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City Hall Park, a public park surrounding New York City Hall in the Civic Center of Manhattan.

It is our leaders at the state and local level who are on the frontlines working in a bipartisan manner to respond effectively to this public health emergency.” - Larry Hogan, Governor of Maryland

In the seventh session, Mitchell Weiss, Professor of Management Practice in the Entrepreneurial Management unit, and the Richard L. Menschel Faculty Fellow at the Harvard Business School, and Jorrit de Jong, Faculty Director of the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative and Senior Lecturer in Public Policy and Management at Harvard Kennedy School, led a discussion on public entrepreneurship and how mayors can generate, try out, and scale up new ideas while managing risk. Josh Sharfstein, Vice Dean for Public Health Practice and Community Engagement at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and Dr. Lisa Cooper, Bloomberg Distinguished Professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, provided critical public health updates, examined racial disparities we are seeing during COVID-19, and offered actions mayors can take to address these disparities in their cities. Governor Hogan offered advice on convening a coronavirus response team to address the crisis in his welcoming remarks to the mayors.

Key Takeaways

From Probability Government to Possibility Government

The COVID-19 crisis has made the previously unthinkable part of our new daily reality, forcing a huge number of innovations and adaptations at every level of society. As city leaders, you are at the helm of many of these changes, and you understand the risks and the stakes at play in the choices you make. How can you act now in a way that maximizes learning and informs future action while managing risks? What kinds of experiments drive innovation, and how can you face the challenges inherent in experimenting “in public”—with your constituents’ eyes on you, money under your stewardship, and lives and livelihood depending on you? How can you transform what was once unthinkable into new understandings of what is now possible?