I’ve spent the last 20 years travelling the world telling people how to fix problems faster. But the reality I encountered taught me something else entirely. The quickest way to really change the world is to slow down and listen. A day at a notorious London prison truly opened my eyes.

London, 2014. I am strolling up the Caledonian Road, or ‘The Cally’ as locals lovingly call it. As I leave London’s futuristic Kings Cross Station behind, small boarding houses, betting shops, letting agents…

Let us start with buying a lamppost. Or, more accurately, with the light it emits. Each global city operates tens of thousands of streetlights at significant cost, since illuminating our streets, squares, and sidewalks also consumes a lot of energy. How cities procure can deliver dramatically different results.

Source: Ausgrid Photos on Flickr, creative commons 2.0 license

Over the past fifteen years, LED lighting technology has become a viable alternative for cities, offering the same light at significantly lower cost — and as a result, lower carbon emissions. …

After 20 years of travelling the world, telling people how to fix problems faster, I invite you to The Slow Lane, my small publishing experiment. Each week, The Slow Lane will give you a bite-sized story about truly transformative change.

Let me take a moment to explain.

A lot of things happen really fast around us. Amazon delivers in a day. Many of the apps we use give us instant gratification. New solutions come seemingly out of nowhere, and within a few years they are everywhere. The secret behind this speed is that they avoid anything that…

A beautiful meal among close friends turns sour when our children talk Fridays for Future. It reveals a lot about our inability to listen at times of crisis — at home, at work, in society.

Spain, 2019. It is a beautiful summer evening. We have set a table underneath the olive tree, overlooking the sea. It is a special treat for us to be among old friends, since we left Europe to live in New York four years ago. Our daughters, seated among us at…

In February 2018, Knowsley Council in the UK published a public procurement notice. In it, they introduced a 15-year-old girl, a single child in need of complex care support services. This tender stood from the hundreds of contract opportunities released by cities in the UK every week that are largely incomprehensible, written in the kind of bureaucratic English that is a short-hand among officials, lawyers and corporate service providers. This tender was written with love.

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

Let’s call her Carol for the purpose of this story. This tender read like the way a mother might describe her daughter in a letter to a loved one. It told us that Carol loves to play games, going to the park, doing crafts. She is afraid of sudden changes…

Procurement innovation helped Chile’s Carabineros break out of a cycle of buying the same shoes for its entire police force after 90 years, invigorating not just the feet of officers, but the shoe industry along the way.

source: Laboratorio de Gobierno, Chile

Chile’s Carabineros are a national public police force whose mission is to guarantee public security throughout the country. The Carabineros have a long history of innovating on the services they provide to the community, but in 2016, they truly embedded innovation after participating in Chile’s Innovative Public Procurement Program, a…

Nine years ago, when austerity measures in the U.K. forced the city of Sefton to slash its budget by 50 percent, a community meals program for vulnerable, mostly elderly, residents was on the chopping block. But then Peter Moore, who led social services for the city, started talking with residents about how — and why — they used the program. That helped him find a way to both keep it and make it better. Gradually it changed the way the whole city worked with lessons that might help budget-strapped cities everywhere.

(Shutterstock/Elena Abrazhevich)

In 2012, Peter Moore was given an unpleasant task nobody working in local government wants. At the time, he ran social services in Sefton, a city of 275,000 in the U.K. near Liverpool. The city could no longer afford to provide its community meals service, which brought daily hot meals…

It may seem like technology will speed processes and improve outcomes, but that isn’t always the case. Here’s why.

In January 2009, we assumed we struck gold. After three years of experimentation we finally reaped real results in our efforts to spread public service innovations across cities. Billions of people around the world got subpar public services, stifling their ability to thrive and, many times, furthering inequities in communities…

City leaders face unprecedented challenges today. They have to lead in utter uncertainty during times of a pandemic coinciding with economic collapse and an urgent call for civil rights. They have to implement budget and service cuts, tackle a rapidly growing demand for social care and justice and somehow restart their local economy. The good news is that in today’s world, there are many who can lend a helping hand to not just maintain service levels but help rebuild our systems to be more resilient.

Let me propose that you learn about people like Rosanne Haggerty, a social entrepreneur who tirelessly works to end homelessness with over 90 US cities halls. Thirteen of them have graduated to effectively eliminating homelessness. Or Sonya Passi, another social entrepreneur who helps people escape intimate partner violence by helping…

Sascha Haselmayer

Passionate about social + city innovation, delightful procurement, connecting social entrepreneurs and governments. Fellow @ New America | Founder/CEO Citymart

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