Anne-Marie Slaughter writes on innovative ways to solve public problems

Winner of 2018 Endres Prize outlines ideas in cover story of Stanford Social Innovation Review.

Anne-Marie Slaughter, President of the New America Foundation and recipient of the Hertie School’s 2018 Dr. Michael Endres Prize, has written the cover story for the Spring 2019 issue of the Stanford Social Innovation Review (SSIR), discussing “The New Practice of Public Problem-Solving”.  The article, co-authored with Tara Dawson McGuinness, a Senior Fellow at New America, examines new ways to ensure that policies connect with people for greater impact, a subject Slaughter spoke on at the Hertie School when she was awarded the 50,000-euro annual prize in October.

Slaughter and McGuinness say many policymakers today are asking whether their solutions actually work for the people they are intended to help – and often conclude that they do not. Now, government officials at the federal, state and local levels, as well as activists, non-governmental organisations and social entrepreneurs, are looking for alternatives to traditional ways of solving public problems. These innovations are a “collective departure from the status quo” of traditional policy-making, write Slaughter and McGuinness.    

According to the authors, “Innovators in and out of government are using a combination of tools to change the way problems are identified and solved. They are responding to an urgent need to achieve dramatic impact, to eradicate social and economic ills, rather than just manage them, and to draw on a variety of new tools and approaches that were not available to their predecessors. Their many different efforts and approaches herald a new practice that can be distilled into four common elements."

These elements are:

  • People-centred: Puts people with needs and capabilities at the centre of programmes and policies (human-centred design)
  • Experimental: Starts small and scouts for local solutions, tests ideas and concepts, shifts to modular contracting, and experiments before national rollouts
  • Data-enabled: Leverages data (big and small) to assess problems, monitor progress and evaluate what works
  • Designed to scale: Assesses and plans for how to expand impact and scale

Slaughter, who is the former Director of Policy Planning in the Obama State Department, visited the Hertie School on 8 October to receive the Endres Prize. She held a lecture on “The new practice of public problem-solving”, participated in a panel discussion, and was a guest lecturer in a course where she shared her innovative ideas with students. Slaughter has been involved with the Hertie School since before its founding  in the early 2000s. As Dean at Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School in 2002, she was a member of the group assembled to shape the Hertie School’s mission.

The Dr. Michael Endres Prize is awarded to renowned academics whose work centres on topics within the Hertie School’s research and teaching fields, and who have helped bridge academic research and policy-making. The prize is named for the long-time Chairman and current honorary Chairman of the Hertie Foundation’s Board of Trustees, Dr. Michael Endres, who was instrumental in founding the Hertie School in 2003 and who has helped guide its successful development since.

Read Slaughter’s article in the Spring 2019 issue of SSIR here.