Bloomington, Ind., Hires New Innovation Director

Devta Kidd will assume the position that was left vacant after the departure of Tom Miller last summer.

by Kurt Christian, Herald-Times / January 4, 2019
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(TNS) — Devta Kidd started as Bloomington, Ind.'s full-time innovation director Wednesday knowing that many people hear the word innovation and think of flying saucers or the Jetsons.

In reality, though, Kidd said her job is to make a series of small course corrections that add up to a city that’s nimble and ready for the future. She’s spent the past six weeks as a part-time consultant meeting with department heads and studying a library of city planning documents so that she’s more familiar with how the city works. In her new role, Kidd said she wants to provide a more efficient and effective delivery of city services that anticipates the community’s needs.

“My philosophy is very systems-oriented and process-oriented,” Kidd said.

Kidd will be paid an annual salary of $74,256.

The city has been without an innovation director since Tom Miller left last summer due to health issues. Bloomington Deputy Mayor Mick Renneisen said the city advertised the open position on indeed.com in the fall and around 60 candidates applied. He said that’s a high number of respondents for a city position and speculated that the high response was due to the unique nature of the job.

“I think it intrigues people, particularly younger people that are possibly looking for something that’s not a run of the mill position,” Renneisen said.

The challenge with a non-traditional job is that there aren’t many people who have innovation director experience, so Renneisen said the four-person hiring committee was happy to see Kidd’s name. She’d been a finalist for the position in 2016 and Mayor John Hamilton and the interview committee felt she had relevant experience in both the private and nonprofit sectors.

“In Devta’s case, she’s got classically trained process improvement skills,” Renneisen said. “We were happy to see her apply again.”

Kidd holds a master of science degree in positive organization development and change from Case Western Reserve University and a bachelor of arts from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, according to a city press release.

“The program at Case Western really focuses on and has a positive psychology basis,” Kidd said. “You can look at something that works well, unpack it and figure out why it’s working well even when the things around it aren’t working well. I gravitate toward that because it makes a lot of sense.”

Kidd most recently worked as a managing director for Monarch Media’s GroupMind. The collective software platform offers a suite of planning, assessment and learning tools. Kidd’s work on that collective intelligence software helped modernize the platform for use on mobile devices. Locally, Kidd has held several positions with IU Health. She worked at IU Health Bloomington Hospital as a deployment leader assisting doctors, nurses and technicians to evaluate and improve their performance. Before that, she was IU Health’s senior organization effectiveness consultant.

As the innovation director, Kidd will be responsible for leveraging technology to improve the organizational effectiveness within each city department. She’ll also formulate strategies for the city to anticipate and respond to innovation outside of city government. That means Kidd will be a part of discussions about scooters, or other future disruptions to city operations. Kidd wants to build off Miller’s momentum by refining how the city might use drones to assist emergency personnel in areas with dense underbrush or other hard-to-reach places.

She’s also hoping to use community development software to streamline the city’s planning department procedures. She said the end result should be a more effective and cooperative system that’s closer to what constituents want. “A lot of the city’s services are ripe for the next level of digitization,” Kidd said.

Other projects may build on the infrastructure created by the city’s new smart water meters and more.

“That’s the goal of this position, to turn things over and look at them from a different perspective,” Renneisen said.

©2019 the Herald-Times (Bloomington, Ind.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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