Critical Update: ‘The Good Death Is Our Only Goal’

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Leaders from GSA’s 10x program join the podcast to talk about how they’re mapping paths through the Valley of Death.

In technology development, the Valley of Death has become a term of art for the systemic problems that often prevent good ideas from becoming reality. But the team at the General Services Administration’s 10x program—an idea factory designed to help federal employees test out their own proposals—have embraced the Valley as a key proving ground in the development process.

The program officially launched in 2017 to collect ideas from federal employees facing daily struggles to meet their missions and deliver services to the people. Ideas for reforming processes, automating or digitizing rote tasks or fixing problems with existing technology and infrastructure are put through a four-phase test to determine whether it is worthy of the time, money and willpower it would take to make it real.

Director Nico Papafil and Will Cahoe, the 10x communications and outreach lead, have described the four-phase process as four questions: Is this a bad idea? Is this a good idea? Will anyone use this? Will everyone use this?

Papafil and Cahoe joined Critical Update to talk about some of the lessons they’ve learned trying to guide projects down a path littered with ideas that never made it out.

“The good death is our only goal and this is what we're really striving to do,” Papafil says.

Listen to the full episode below or through your favorite podcast platform.