Montgomery County’s Laboratory for Civic Improvement

The Innovation Program staff and fellows are exploring new ideas, processes and technology to improve quality of life for County residents.

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A Safe Place to Fail

Innovation doesn’t occur without experimentation. We’re moving the County forward by taking smart, calculated risks.

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What is Innovation?

It’s not just a buzzword to us. We define innovation with three simple criteria.

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Our Focus Areas

Currently our projects fall into three categories based on County need, opportunity and interest.

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Safe Place to Fail

The Innovation Program will follow a small set of basic principles that will help us create a “safe place to fail.”

The Innovation Program is new to the County and questions about how it will operate will continually present themselves. These may be questions with no clear answer, but reflecting on the basic principles may help guide us to answers.
  • Be the “Department of Yes” – Test as many ideas as our resources will allow.
  • Use the best, invent the rest – Take the best ideas and lessons from others whenever possible and go from there. Invent only when you have to.
  • Work quickly and move on – The Program is not meant to own other programs.
  • Understand the current state – Spend time with departments and in the community.
  • Keep churning – Avoid insular thinking by staying fluid; continuously bring outside resources in and shift inside resources out.
  • If we’re not failing occasionally we’re not trying hard enough – In order to create a safe place to experiment and try, we have to be comfortable with the occasional misstep.

Innovation Criteria

The Montgomery County Innovation Program, led by the CInO, coordinates, promotes, identifies, educates, manages, and executes a variety of projects and ideas designed to institutionalize and support the County’s Innovation Program objectives. Broadly stated, for any new or ongoing project/idea to be included in this program, it must meet the following base criteria:

The concept is entrepreneurial, iterative, and testable. This means that desired outcomes can be identified and measured in a lean, focused way.
The project is experimental, and thus has some degree of inherent risk. The project involves a new process, technology, or skill that is not yet fully understood in the context of County operations.
The concept is scalable to provide a meaningful return on investment. If deemed viable the concept can be implemented more broadly.

Read about our Activities

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