The third class of Philadelphia city employees graduated Dec. 8 from Philadelphia University’s Academy for Municipal Innovation (AMI), a unique program that teaches municipal employees how to innovate in their jobs.
“You are the only city, or perhaps town, in America doing this,” said Craig Benson, former New Hampshire governor and long-time entrepreneur, in addressing the graduates. “Now you have to do something with it—that’s the price you pay back.”
Benson, with experience in business and government, told the AMI graduates, “You work in a culture, but you can push that culture, that culture can change.” He advised them to take risks and be decisive: “By making a decision you’re taking a risk—but you’re also becoming a leader.”
With this third cohort of 18 students, a total of 57 city employees have graduated from the AMI, which offers a novel approach to teaching employees to perform their jobs in a more collaborative and innovative way. It appears to be the first such collaboration between a university and municipality to foster a culture of innovation throughout city government.
The AMI students represented a range of city departments, including health, redevelopment, parks and recreation, innovation and technology, police, community empowerment and opportunity, licenses and inspections and public property.
The seven-week course, based on the award-winning Kanbar College of Design, Engineering and Commerce curriculum, is designed to promote innovation and a culture of interdisciplinary collaboration—an important foundation for driving innovation.
Each weekly class focused on a specific innovation-centric topic, including discovering opportunities through design thinking, analyzing complexities through systems thinking, developing value propositions with business analytics, understanding the end-user through research and communicating through story telling. The final class focused on developing innovative solutions for the city of Philadelphia.
President Stephen Spinelli Jr. noted that with the newest class of Academy graduates, there is a critical mass of people to sustain a spirit of innovation that can change the nature of government. “Take this experience and create value for yourself, your community, your department and the city of Philadelphia,” he said.