From the Good Ideas File: Good Idea Resource Checklist

checklistI’ve written here before  about People’s Liberty, an experiment in philanthropy though individuals that launched in Cincinnati earlier this year.  I’ve found lots interesting about People’s Liberty to date, from their Fellowship program to the building that they have just finished rehabilitating, but one of the things that continues to strike me is how good they are at coming up with slap-me-on-the-head-simple solutions to common problems.

This admittedly non-Pulitzer worthy photo shows one of these small Good Ideas that has the potential for a transformative effect.  It’s a….checklist.  Of sources of help for good ideas.

This is one of those examples, I think, of needing an non-insider to identify what people who are new to community improvement actually need.  If you’re the city manager, or the city planner, or the guy who runs the local foundation, you already know at least a large part of who is doing what in your town.  And because you assume everyone else knows that, too, you…. don’t realize that they don’t.

This checklist fills a crucial teaching role, maybe more so than anything practical: if I’m a person with a Good Idea for Cincinnati, but I’m not already one of those Insiders, chances are I don’t know where to start or who might be able to help me — especially in a community like Cincinnati, with hundreds of nonprofit initiatives and community organizations and what all.

You, oh Insider, can assume that I, the Outsider, know all of that —  or assume that I could suss all that out if I Just Worked Hard Enough — but chances are that hundreds of Good Ideas will go by the wayside while Outsiders like me are trying to do things like pay my bills.  If I think that I’m a lone duck and that my Good Idea will only come to fruition though my solo effort, then chances are the city — and I — will never see that Good Idea come to pass.

But give me a sheet of paper with a simple checklist of who’s out there that might be able to work with me, and we’ve changed that equation pretty substantially for tiny bit of money.

If you haven’t already, go check out People’s Liberty.  You’ll be glad you did.

Welcome to Crowdsourcing Wisdom!

I’m delighted to announce that the book



(and won’t make people wish they hadn’t come)

is done, published, ready and waiting for you!

This book is the culmination of over 20 years of my work with cities, regions, governments, nonprofits and developers all over the country.  It gives you a clear, no-nonsense run down on why it is exactly that our public meetings so often end up feeling so miserable — for everyone involved.  It then gives you a step-by-step process for designing and conducting public meetings that actually generate wisdom, and it concludes with tactics for managing confrontational public meeting situations in a way that’s fair to everyone involved.

If you’ve been doing public engagement for years, I think you’ll find this book both useful and refreshing.  If you’ve never run a public meeting before, you’ll find that this book gives you a set of tools for doing that better — tools you probably didn’t even know you had!  book cover

And if you’re frustrated with how your community does public engagement, or you’re looking for a way to start overcoming the build-up of frustration and apathy that’s preventing your town from finding new solutions to your tough issues, this book will give you the first steps of a new way forward.

Pretty good deal for a few bucks.

You can find this book, and other Wise Fool Press publications, in any format you want:

If you like print, you can order copies from right here

If you use a Kindle, you can buy it for Kindle right here

And if you want a PDF or an EPub file (the kind used by Apple products and NOOK), you can get those right here.


And learn more about the book and upcoming trainings, samples and other good stuff at

Of course, reading a book about how to do something isn’t anywhere near the same as trying it out yourself.  I’ll be giving workshops on how to Crowdsource Wisdom in different places over the next few months. If you’d like a workshop for your organization, staff, conference or upcoming meeting, send me a note at In-person and online video training is available.