Public Entrepreneurship, Innovation, and “Possibility Government”

March 29, 2021

By Camber

When imagining the future of innovation, most people conjure up an image of Silicon Valley and the next billion-dollar tech-startup being run out of a garage. It’s an understandable relationship, as the faces of recent innovation —people like Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and Bill Gates—have all changed the world through their work in the private sector.

But as we navigate the aftermath of a year that has presented no shortage of challenges to leaders in the public sector, the question arises—can we leverage an entrepreneurial framework to innovate the way our government solves problems?

In Mitchell Weiss’ book We the Possibility, he explores this idea of public entrepreneurship and the potential for what he calls the “Possibility Government.” Three distinct qualities define this government:

  • the ability to imagine new ideas
  • a desire to experiment
  • the resources to scale.

Now more than ever, Weiss writes, we need to be able to solve public problems with urgency, innovation, and creativity—qualities few people associate with any level of our current government.

As our country stares down the existential threats of climate change, a crumbling infrastructure, and the decline of public education and social services, we must reimagine the way we solve problems to match the pace of the world around us.

Along with innovative solutions to solving problems, Wiess writes that we must also reimagine the role that government can play in our lives and our society. Instead of imagining the government as a sort of vending machine that provides services paid for by our tax dollars, we must see the government as a potential marketplace—one that empowers people to reach their greatest opportunities. ‘We the People’ are this country’s greatest asset and should work in harmony with our government, not against it.

The desire to solve public problems through innovative solutions is a defining principle behind the founding of Camber Systems. We believe that the problems facing the public sector should benefit from a symbiotic relationship with private sector innovation.

As we enter what are hopefully the final months of the pandemic, technology continues to play a vital role in solving recent public health challenges. Wastewater surveillance of municipal sewers is helping to track the effectiveness of vaccine distribution. Mobility data from technology companies are being used in epidemiological models to track population movement and the efficacy of social distancing measures. As the country begins to open back up, companies like Camber are making the jobs of public officials easier through the framework of public entrepreneurship. We work to empower the government with the data harvested from private sector innovation, informing decisions beyond the scope policymakers are traditionally given access to.


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