Students, Clients, and Teaching Team of DPI-663, Spring 2020

Kicking off Tech & Innovation in Gov — Spring 2020

Nick Sinai


Last week was the first class of my Harvard field course, Tech & Innovation in Government — it was awesome to welcome the students and government partners to the class!

With just the students at present first, we spent time getting to know each other, during a simple ice-breaker (finding two non-school things in common):

Students during icebreaker

I introduced the class and spent some time providing some context to the students about the challenging and fun semester ahead. See the week 1 slide presentation.

One of the readings I assign to the class is a New York Times Magazine article about how to “build the perfect team.” It’s a story of Google’s Project Aristotle, an internal study about team effectiveness and productivity. The Google researchers working on this project pored over external academic studies and crunched internal data from teams working across the company.

What the Google team learned — perhaps unsurprising to experts that study team dynamics — is that the emotional side of teams matter.

Check out my blog post on teamwork last year:

After a quick break, the government clients — from the U.S. Air Force, VA, Health and Human Services, Social Security Administration, and the City of Boston — joined us and gave short introductory presentations.

Lt Col Aaron “Easy” Capizzi talking about the origin story of Kessel Run
Clarice Chan describes how is a Veteran-first product platform
Misu Tasnim talking about the U.S. Digital Service
Bob Teller describing the SSA IT vision
Reilly Zlab explaining City of Boston demographics
The U.S. Digital Service has been a partner with DPI-663 since the beginning

The students and client teams then did a design exercise called the Marshmallow Challenge — learning the value of iteration the hard way!

Finally, and importantly, the student teams spent time with their clients:

Looking forward to the next class!

Not taking ourselves too seriously!



Nick Sinai

Senior Advisor at Insight Partners; Adjunct Faculty at Harvard; former US Deputy CTO at White House; Author of Hack Your Bureaucracy