Learn More About Mitchell Weiss
Can we solve the world’s biggest problems? Can we – private entrepreneurs, citizens and the people we vote into office – make meaningful change happen, especially with the obstacles imposed by the pandemic and with democracy itself under duress? There is reason to doubt that governments can do new things in the days ahead, but Harvard Business School Professor, author and leadership advisor Mitchell Weiss, knows they can.
Weiss believes that if we move away from “probability government” toward “possibility government” and find new ways to generate solutions to public problems, communities — and the people in them — will get the new resources and programs they need to thrive.
“Probability government means doing programs and services that will probably work,” says Weiss, “but often, they’re too slow or it’s too late. Much of what government currently does meets this basic criteria. Possibility government means trying things that might possibly work. In some cases, they may fail, but when they do work, they are transformative and change our lives.”
Weiss, a leading expert on civic innovation, advises public and private leaders on navigating the shift to public entrepreneurship. Adapting the skills, traits and practices of entrepreneurship and using them to transform the way governments are run, Weiss – a senior advisor to the Bloomberg-Harvard City Leadership Initiative – repeatedly shows how positive change has, and can, happen.
Weiss’s book, “We the Possibility: Harnessing Public Entrepreneurship to Solve Our Most Urgent Problems” (Harvard Business Review Press, January 2021), lays out an inventive vision for government and reveals the roles each of us need to play to make it happen. Described by former U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter as “an important book for bending the arc of progress toward public good,” Weiss cites myriad examples of modern entrepreneurship, the kind that can help business leaders, policymakers and citizens chart a path toward change together.
Before joining HBS, Weiss was himself one of these possibility leaders. He served as chief of staff to Boston’s Mayor Thomas Menino and is a co-founder of New Urban Mechanics, helping to make Boston’s innovation work a global model for peer-produced government and change. Now, as a professor of public entrepreneurship, Weiss gives business and government leaders the tools and techniques they need to incubate and then scale the solutions they create. By following this path, he says, it’s possible for risk-averse government leaders and innovative enterprises to take bold steps and achieve lasting success.
“Moving from probability government to possibility government isn’t something that is just for elected officials,” says Weiss. “To achieve that type of government, we not only need bold business leaders who will try new things. We also need ‘possibility citizens’ – the rest of us – to participate and to give our elected officials encouragement.”
Mitchell Weiss is an award-winning Professor of Management Practice at Harvard Business School and the Richard L. Menschel Faculty Fellow. He created and teaches the school’s popular and demanding course on public entrepreneurship, focused on the public leaders and private entrepreneurs inventing a difference in the world. He has taught portions of the course to world leaders at all levels of government and in the private sector.
Weiss, who has received awards for his innovative teaching and community leadership, is an inspiring and sought-after speaker. In addition to his work with startups and other businesses, he has presented at 10 Downing Street, the World Bank and Code for America. Weiss is also the course head for The Entrepreneurial Manager Course at HBS, reaching all 900+ MBA students. Weiss’s research has covered the hoverboard that crossed the English Channel, the world’s first city built “from the internet up,” the testing of autonomous vehicles, and the rise, fall and follow-up of dockless bike-sharing. His work has been referenced in The Wall Street Journal, CNBC, Politico and other major media outlets.
Weiss holds an MBA from Harvard Business School where he was a George Baker Scholar, and an A.B. with honors in economics from Harvard University.
Mitchell Weiss is available to advise your organization via virtual and in-person consulting meetings, interactive workshops and customized keynotes through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers & Advisors, a division of Stern Strategy Group®.