Arne Duncan

This is the fourth in a series of profiles of innovative leaders in government based on interviews for the book “Paths to Making a Difference: Leading in Government” by Paul R. Lawrence and Mark A. Abramson. The book highlights the management lessons of 24 political executives during their first two years in the Obama administration.

Undertaking innovation in government is a challenge. Government leaders must work with their existing tool kit, primarily grants and contracts, to bring about their desired results. It is rare that Congress gives government new authorities and a new portfolio of tools. (One exception is the creation of the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy in the Department of Energy). Keep reading →

Every time Education Secretary Arne Duncan and his department make a decision that affects local schools, he remembers that he once “lived on the other side of the law.”

That is, he served as superintendent and CEO of the Chicago Public Schools for eight years before coming to Washington to run the Department of Education, and he worked in education for more than a decade before that. He knows what life is like for educators who have to carry out policies developed in Washington. Keep reading →