The OpenGov Hub Strategy

The OpenGov Hub is a coworking community in Washington, D.C. and network of organizations promoting transparency, accountability, and civic engagement around the world.  We are the world’s first coworking community devoted to open government/governance. The 20,000 square foot Hub serves as the physical home of 35+ organizations (mostly international development nonprofits) and over 150 people promoting diverse “opengov" reforms through technology, research, media, data and advocacy.

(You can find more information elsewhere about who we are, what we do, and our community values.)

 

+ Mission of the OpenGov Hub


The OpenGov Hub exists for two reasons:
  1. to provide an outstanding workspace and basic resources to help opengov organizations get their work done, saving time and money through pooling resources (efficiency)

  2. to be an active community of collaboration, learning and innovation that helps members get their work done better by more effectively fulfilling their respective missions and have greater impact by working together (effectiveness).
The OpenGov Hub is an intentionally themed shared office space – our only membership criterion is a fit within the "opengov" theme. This means the OpenGov Hub is uniquely positioned to explore how physical co-location can promote and deepen meaningful collaboration across organizations working on similar issues.

+ Purpose of the New OpenGov Hub Strategy

The OpenGov Hub has achieved an incredible amount since its founding in 2012 - establishing the first community of its kind, producing 100+ unique curated events, developing an increasingly growing network of members, and becoming a fully viable and self-sustaining social enterprise.

Yet much of the transformative potential in our community remains untapped.

This is where the new strategy comes in. The goal of this strategy is to help the Hub build on some existing collaborative successes and take things to the next level by fully tapping the potential of this network and transitioning to a truly active community and ecosystem of collaboration, innovation and learning. Through these efforts, we believe the OpenGov Hub can be far greater than the sum of its parts.

+ Why This Is Important

How people work is fundamentally and rapidly changing. And nonprofits and social sector organizations are consistently under-resourced and overstretched.

At the same time, challenges around public representation and participation are growing in complexity and scope. The challenges and stakes of this work - reforming governments and changing how citizens and governments engage all around the world - are far too high for any one organization to tackle alone.

The OpenGov Hub’s mission and strategy will enable organizations on the front lines of this critical global work not only to experience cost and time savings, but also create more effective change through collaborative community.

The bottom line: we can do more, and better, when we work together.

+ How We Will Fulfill This Strategy

We recognize that successful collaboration takes investing in relationships, time, and resources. To fulfill this new strategy – importantly, without sacrificing the high-quality daily operations of the Hub - will take effort. Yet we have identified three key objectives and four strategic themes to focus our collaboration-tapping efforts and help maximize their potential impact. By following these guideposts, we can reach a place where entirely new levels of impact are possible.


Three Key Objectives - Community, Collaboration, Change


The OpenGov Hub will focus on building community, promoting collaboration, and catalyzing change across its member network. We will pursue these “three Cs” as our primary objectives.

  1. Build Community:
    • Know each other (as individuals) - Surveys and numerous discussions indicate that one of the greatest current barriers to collaboration is not fear of competition (as some may suspect). Rather, many members still don't feel they know others well outside of their own organizations. Getting to know one another as individuals and building rapport, trust and relationships is an essential first step.
    • Know each other (as organizations) - The OpenGov Hub will actively facilitate and ease the process of our members getting to know the nature of each other’s work. We will continue to break down silos between groups who historically may have not interacted but who share common goals. One way the Hub will achieve this is by regularly highlighting examples of members’ work to the community (and beyond, in some cases), to surface all the incredible achievements and passions in this network but also the challenges and struggles (both “pains” and “passions”). This will help expose fruitful grounds for collaboration.

  2. Foster Collaboration:
    • Work together - Ongoing community building efforts will enable more meaningful opportunities for collaboration. We seek to promote valuable collaborations between members, no matter what forms they may take. This ranges from looser, less formal arrangements (like one-time efforts to co-organize an event, or cross-promote or provide feedback on each other’s work) to more structured, formal collaborations (such as jointly seeking funding, implementing joint projects, or formally sharing back-office services).

  3. Catalyze Change:
    • Learn Together - Genuinely learning about what's working and what isn't, what's new and what's possible, is perhaps the best motivator to change and continuously improve what we do. We also recognize that organizations are only as strong as their people, and we will provide opportunities for continued learning, skills-building, and professional development for individual Hub members. By intentionally carving out space to critically learn together - learning from and with each other - we can improve our effectiveness and broaden the horizons of what is possible.
    • Innovate Together - The magnitude of governance challenges mandate us to explore, experiment with, and learn from new approaches to entrenched problems. We will help opengov reformers innovate smartly, strategically and with purpose. Having a supportive community who can test and iterate together and create safe space for learning from innovations is essential.
    • In sum: a community that collaborates can catalyze change for greater impact.

+ Four Strategic Themes

Organizing a wide range of high-quality events, at least once per week, has been a core part of how the Hub has attempted to fulfill these objectives since its establishment.

The Hub will continue to regularly offer events, but with a greater focus on four key topics in the opengov field to hone our efforts.

These themes were identified as priority areas for OpenGov Hub members (the work of virtually all Hub members intersects with at least one of these topics). These are also issues that have growing momentum in the broader fields of opengov and international development. Each theme is deliberately ambitious and fairly broad in scope, as the OpenGov Hub is uniquely positioned to tackle these questions through the collective insights and power of its network.

The Hub will leverage its existing reputation and deepen its convening power to not only physically host a variety of events on these topics, but also push the envelope and meaningfully advance new conversations and ideas on these pressing issues.

  1. Adaptive Learning and Innovation to Improve Governance

    There is a growing consensus on the need to pursue context-specific, adaptive, and feedback-informed approaches to strengthening governance around the world. Governance work cannot be limited to isolated technical policy tweaks but must acknowledge and engage with the messy influence of politics. This entails doing development differently and moving away from universal “best practices” and more toward “best fit” approaches, which are informed by constant learning.

  2. Opening Governance in Difficult Places

    It is challenging enough to strengthen governance in stable, open societies; opening governance becomes even more complex and high stakes in difficult environments, which are prone to conflict and/or are politically restrictive/authoritarian. The unfortunate global trend of shrinking space for citizens to freely organize harms all opengov efforts. At the same time there is growing recognition of the social and political change that social movements can make (beyond organized civil society).

  3. Localizing Open Governance Reforms

    Many opengov reforms to date have happened at the national level. Opengov advocates are increasingly asking themselves what reforms can and should look like at local government levels (for cities, states and municipalities), especially as more people around the world move into cities and the world population today is now more urban than rural. This theme also lends itself to exploring cross-pollination of ideas and learning about opengov work locally and globally (here in the U.S. and beyond).

  4. Maximizing the Impact of Open Data

    The “data revolution” gives great promise, but as more information about government activities is coming online, how can we ensure this new data is valuable and actionable both to governments and citizens, to hold governments accountable and support better decision and policy making?

+ The Way Forward

We are thrilled to present this new strategy to OpenGov Hub members and friends. Its four themes, three objectives, and renewed mission all offer an exciting opportunity for the world’s first opengov coworking community to forge a new path. The untapped potential is great.

Governance challenges worldwide may be daunting, but with ambition, clarity and commitment we believe our collective efforts will enable us to reach entirely new horizons of public good. And as OpenGov Hub global affiliate hubs are being launched in Nepal and Liberia, we will work with all those who wish to build and strengthen a truly global network that supports and catalyzes countless on-the-ground reformers.

By mobilizing our collective efforts, we hope to set a global example of a community of passionate, committed individuals and groups smartly working together to improve lives by meaningfully changing how citizens and governments interact worldwide.

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