Interview with Past MMASC President John Keisler,
Innovation Team Director for the City of Long Beach
Written by Ryan Park
What City do you work for, what’s your department, what’s your title, and how long have you been there?
City of Long Beach, City Manager’s Office and Innovation Team Director. I have been with the City for 10 years, but have been in my current role for the past 5 months.
How has it been getting settled into your role as the Innovation Team Director?
It is very exciting! This is a new initiative funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies, which establishes a research and development unit for the City.
As the Director of the Innovation Team, how do you find new ways to solve old problems? How do you facilitate change with the community at large?
What we use is the innovation delivery approach. First, we investigate the problem by going out into the community and talking with the end user. Although investigations take time and require a lot of resources, it is necessary to understand the user’s experience. Next, we generate ideas by developing a sufficient model that address contributing issues. That said, generating ideas requires commitment from staff, support from the executive leadership, and collaboration from the community to truly find and meet the needs of your audience. Finally, we show our process by aligning the resources that lead to our results. This can be done through prototyping, finding outside funding sources, and understanding the value of the design. Overall, the City who really wants to innovate and adjust to the market really needs to take a look at the way the world is changing. Although it’s not what is traditionally done in government, I believe it is necessary.