As Innovation Teams (i-teams) tackle the toughest challenges facing city governments, Living Cities will curate lessons and reflections emerging from their work in real time. This week, we present the first in a series of Lightning Rounds--discussion questions posted to the i-teams online community that elicited quick insights from the teams.

For more information on the Innovation Teams, check out Bloomberg Philanthropies' i-teams page.

This week’s Lightning Round focused on one of the most important first steps the i-teams take–introducing themselves to others in city hall. We posed the question, “How did others in city hall react to the establishment of your i-team?”

Teams generally found that city officials and employees reacted positively to their arrival, although there was sometimes a bit of initial confusion. Here is a selection of reflections from i-team members:

  • Everyone in the government, top down from the Mayor, Council, City Manager, Executive Team and Staff, remain incredibly excited to have the i-team in place and supportive toward achieving its goals. We couldn’t have asked for a better reception and ongoing support.

  • We are working very closely with Public Works and they feel like an extension of our team.

  • Aside from everyone being jealous that we got to paint our walls, people have been really welcoming (we’ve been invited to birthday celebrations in the mayor’s office) and have also been open about problems and potential solutions that they see - and when they have the data, they give that to us, too!

  • Through intentional and focused introductory meetings with each department and coffee and bagels for our new office mates we’ve cleared up confusion, generated buy-in and most importantly gathered valuable information from potential owners and sponsors. Our director reached out to every department in the city. A quick count says that we reached out to at least 12 city departments and more than 50 groups total, including various community groups and nonprofits. It’s been a time intensive process but an informative part of our research process. It’s also generated a lot of enthusiasm and support for our i-team.

By being clear and upfront about who they are and how they fit into the bigger picture within city government, the i-teams were able to plant the seeds for future relationships and ensure that their transition into city hall was a smooth one. Next week’s Lightning Round will focus on what collaboration among i-teams looks like in practice. Until then, be sure to join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #iteams.