At SheTek Annual Conference 2021, Dr. Beth Simone Noveck Delivers Keynote on Problem-Solving, Tech, & Community Wisdom
Beth Simone Noveck, New Jersey Chief Innovation Officer and Director of The Governance Lab, delivered an inspirational and community-focused Keynote at the SheTek 2021 Annual Conference, held virtually on October 26 and 27, 2021. Dr. Noveck’s motivational address focused on the importance of using data, technology, and the wisdom of communities to develop creative solutions to public problems.
Dr. Beth Simone Noveck is a New Jersey resident with an enviable biography. She is a graduate of Harvard and Yale law school with international experience in advising the UK and the German governments. Previously, Dr. Noveck worked at the White House as United States Deputy Chief Technology Officer for open government and led President Obama’s White House Open Government Initiative. In addition, she is a professor at NYU Tandon School of Engineering, a fellow at NYU’s Institute of Public Knowledge, and is a visiting senior faculty fellow at the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University. Beth also directs NYU’s Governance Lab and Action Research Center, studying the impact of technology on governing. In 2018, she was appointed by Phil Murphy as New Jersey’s first Chief Innovation Officer, where she focuses on innovation in government.
Dr. Noveck exhibited her passion for peer-to-peer mentoring during her Keynote. First, Dr. Noveck asked the SheTek community to consider what technology is for, how we can use it to change the world for the better, and the utter importance of critical thinking. Noveck mentioned Genrich Altshuller, a Soviet engineer, inventor, and writer, who believed we can teach people how they can solve complex problems in the world. She posed a conundrum of the cherry cordials – how do they get the cherry inside the chocolate? The conclusion is that the cherry goes first, covered with an enzyme, and then it is covered with chocolate. The cordial develops from the inside out. Noveck tied this conundrum to how we should often try to focus on looking at problems inversely, outside of our regular way of thinking.
Another key piece of advice shared by Dr. Noveck centers around problem-solving methodology. Dr. Noveck cautions, “Be careful not to define the problem by the absence of the solution, but instead, figure out the root reasons to the problem.” In her pathway plan, she advised opening your thinking to new methods, and recommends working with people to identify what the problem is, reframing the problem, and collaborating to uncover creative solutions. In sum, “Take the time to learn from people and data on what the problem is.”
Noveck wrapped her address by inviting the SheTek Community to take advantage of a free course at www.solvingpublicproblems.org where anyone can participate in The Gov Lab’s mission and become a change-maker and a leader. For those in search of a new role in tech, she invited everyone to come and join the NJ Office of Innovation. She also shared www.challenge.gov, where the US Federal Government is using technology to ask people to come up with their solutions to social problems. Noveck filled her speech with guidance on how to deal with social problems using data and technology and the importance of critical thinking skills. With brief extracts from her private life and accomplishments, the SheTek Community and the Annual Conference attendees were inspired and motivated to solve problems. Dr. Noveck also provided several avenues for audience members to implement new knowledge they had gained during the SheTek Annual Conference.
During the Audience Q&A, Dr. Noveck was asked, “What are the top two challenges you came across while working on impactful and innovative projects?” Dr. Noveck responded that her top two challenges are, “Not enough hours in the day, and not enough hours in the day.” While listening to her, and reading about her fascinating life and accomplishments one must wonder, where would Beth Simone Noveck be if she had enough hours in a day?
Log into the SheTek Community to watch Beth Simone Noveck’s Keynote address and the other inspiring segments of the SheTek Annual Conference: LINK