What do Activists, Reformers, and Technologists Have in Common?


At the Governance Collaboratory, our target user is an individual who seeks to reshape the way that governments work and how they interact with citizens.  Within that general criteria, one of the first things we wanted to understand is the different types of governance innovators we might seek to support in the Collaboratory.  How are their motivations and challenges different?  How differently might we design our program if we were focused on one type of innovator vs. another?

After some reflection, it seems that three distinct innovator segments stand out:

  • The Activist, who seeks to improve governance by increasing pressure from civil society and empowering citizens
  • The Reformer, who works as a policy maker or a bureaucrat within formal government institutions with the mandate to reform internal processes
  • The Technologist, who utilizes his or her unique skills – and perspective as an outsider – to improve how governments work or empower activists to more effectively press for change

As our work progresses this segmentation will evolve, but our need finding interviews over the past several months support this distinction (albeit with some very blurry boundaries between the technologist and the activist).