Implementing Innovation: Fostering Enduring Change in Environmental and Natural Resource Governance

Implementing Innovation: Fostering Enduring Change in Environmental and Natural Resource Governance

Implementing Innovation: Fostering Enduring Change in Environmental and Natural Resource Governance

Implementing Innovation: Fostering Enduring Change in Environmental and Natural Resource Governance

Synopsis

Over the past three decades, governments at the local, state, and federal levels have undertaken a wide range of bold innovations, often in partnership with nongovernmental organizations and communities, to try to address their environmental and natural resource management tasks. Many of these efforts have failed. Innovations, by definition, are transitory. How, then, can we establish new practices that endure?

Toddi A. Steelman argues that the key to successful and long-lasting innovation must be a realistic understanding of the challenges that face it. She examines three case studies -- land management in Colorado, watershed management in West Virginia, and timber management in New Mexico -- and reveals specific patterns of implementation success and failure. Steelman challenges conventional wisdom about the role of individual entrepreneurs in innovative practice. She highlights the institutional obstacles that impede innovation and its longer term implementation, while offering practical insight in how enduring change might be achieved.

Excerpt

For the last fifteen years I have been studying various innovations in environmental and natural resource governance. During this time I had been collecting my thoughts in what could be considered a manuscript in description but not in substance. Languishing on a shelf in my office, the manuscript taunted me for a greater investment of time, which was impossible to find given my overall workload.

When given the opportunity for a sabbatical in 2008, I wanted to reflect on what I had learned about these innovations in a more comprehensive way and rework the manuscript. What were some of the larger lessons that flowed from the numerous in-depth case studies in which I had been invested over the previous decade and a half? Consequently, the manuscript was reshaped around a simple question: Why were some of the innovations implemented while others were not? It is not enough just to come up with a clever idea—it actually has to be put into practice. So how do clever ideas get put into long-term practice?

Innovative public, nonprofit, and collaborative programs have been the object of much excitement and optimism among academics and practitioners seeking improvements in our way of life, ^fet not all innovations thrive or even survive. Given that public agencies, nonprofit organizations, and philanthropic organizations invest millions of dollars in promoting innovative programs, it is imperative that we understand the conditions under which these innovations are likely to fulfill their promise. This book is important because it provides insight into the conditions that impede or facilitate successful innovations. If we understand these conditions, then we can better target funding, human resources, and political will to support innovations over the long term.

I owe a debt of gratitude to numerous people who were willing to participate in this book in many different ways. It seems unfair to put one person's name on the cover when so many people lent a hand in its creation. First, I wish to offer my thanks to the scores of people who were interviewed for this project. I was privileged to learn about these innovations from the individuals who participated in them firsthand. I thank them for sharing their stories and insights with me and allowing me to further share those stories and insights with a broader public. For the Great Outdoors Colorado . . .

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