Innovation Blog

What Is Public Entrepreneurship and Possibility Government? 


At a recent discussion between Harvard Business School (HBS) professor Mitch Weiss and Boston Globe Managing Director Linda Henry focused on the concept of Public Entrepreneurship.

The discussion was jointly organized by MassChallenge, HBS, and HubWeek.

To setup the conversation on Public Entrepreneurship, Mitch Weiss first posed the question: “Can we even solve public problems anymore?” In addition to teaching, Mitch Weiss is an active advisor to startups in the government-tech sector and was the former Chief of Staff for Mayor Menino.

He went on to say:

“If we move from what I call probability government, where we do things that will probably work but they lead to sort of mediocre or middling outcomes, towards something that I call possibility government where we actually do things that will only possibly work which means they probably won’t work, which is the realm of the entrepreneur.”

Citing the failure rate of new ventures at 75%, Weiss encourages possibility government and for new ideas and approaches to better align with the traits of entrepreneurship. While the failure rate may be quite high, the successes are more than just average, they’re transformative.

By introducing this mode of thinking the initial question “Can we solve public problems anymore?” can change to:

“How [do we] get to Possibility Government, how do we use the skills, the traits, the practices of entrepreneurship to bring about new solutions to old or sometimes new public problems?”

Weiss has worked closely with MassChallenge alumni including the 2017 Gold Winner Voatz, an app technology driven to make voting more accessible and more secure. As he champions bold initiatives for more significant results, some of his proof can be seen right in the neighborhood MassChallenge headquarters out of: the greatly expanding Innovation District, which largely took off when he was working with Mayor Menino’s office.

Want to Learn More?

To learn more about the ideas of Public Entrepreneurship and Possibility Government, we encourage you to watch the video recording of Weiss and Henry’s conversation below courtesy of


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