Harwood Tools

These tools are compiled in the Public Innovator Lab Guide.

Here we have broken them out into separate sections where you can add additional resources, comments, or notes to them.


3A's of Public Life

A set of touchstones that help you turn outward. They help you earn trust, gain credibility, and be more effective. The 3A's are: authority, authenticity, and accountability.

Harwood blog posts on the 3 A's

PDF: 3A's of Public Life

Applying Public Knowledge to Library Programs

From the tool: "You have successfully gathered public knowledge. You have summarized what you learned and even shared it with others. But now what? How should you think about public knowledge in relation to current library programs? This discussion can help you get started with identifying possibilities for this."

PDF: Applying Public Knowledge to Library Programs

Ask Exercise

From the tool: "We want to get a sense of people's aspirations for their community and learn about the kind of community they want to create. Introduce yourself and say, 'We're trying to learn more about people's aspirations for their community. Would you be willing to answer four quick questions?'"

PDF: Ask Exercise


A 60- to 90-minute conversation with an existing or newly formed group (i.e., staff task force, board committee, new community group) designed to help the group decide what they want to work on together

Try using these questions to get people focused on the community — and what they have in common:

  1. What are my aspirations for my community?
  2. What are the challenges we face in reaching these aspirations?
  3. What are the changes needed in my community to reach our aspirations?

PDF: Aspirations

PDF: Aspirations Tool (Spanish)

PDF: Aspirations Facilitator's Guide

Community Rhythms Tool

From "Community Rhythms: The Five Stages of Community Life" article at Living Cities:

"After examining our own efforts and looking at a number of communities, we came to this important conclusion: Communities have rhythms. They go through stages of community life. And while data, best practices and a commitment to rigorous analysis are all important, equally important is to pay attention to those rhythms and to actually develop strategies that fit local context.

The five stages of community life help explain why some communities move faster and others slower when it comes to change. Each stage has its own implications, or do's and don'ts. The same strategies may work in one community, but not another. What it takes to accelerate and deepen change varies, given the stage a community is in."

PDF:Community Rhythms Tool

Community Conversations

PDF: Harwood Community Conversation Workbook

Going Deeper with Community Conversations (webinar slides)

Word: Community Conversation Questions - English/Spanish/Vietnamese

Developing Themes & Sharing Public Knowledge

Stewards of Public Knowledge are people and organizations that gather, share, and use the knowledge gained from Community Conversations in a way that contributes to the common good.

Theming is the practice of grouping conversation notes into top-level categories and themes. It is usually done after a conversation, but some of it can be done during a conversation.

PDF: Developing Themes & Sharing Public Knowledge (webinar slides)

Examples of Public Knowledge Summary Reports

These are examples of public knowledge summary reports from a variety of sources and communities.

Examples of Community Conversation Notes

These public knowledge summary examples can help you turn your community conversations into public knowledge summaries.

Harwood Story Template

From the tool:

"Our work comes alive through the stories we share. Becoming better at telling stories helps people more easily grasp the value that Turning Outward adds. We use stories with this general pattern:

  • There was a situation that existed that took someone down a path
  • Through Harwood's support in Turning Outward, we went down a new path with new choices
  • We took actions that led to new, positive outcomes
  • If not for this alternate path, this would not have happened"

PDF: Harwood Story Template

Innovation Spaces

CA Innovation Spaces Webinar (webinar slides)

PDF: Innovation Spaces


From the tool: "Each day, we make hundreds of choices, and while we can't control everything, if we become more intentional about the choices we do make—we can have far greater impact. Test the quality of your choices by asking yourself the following questions:

  1. Turn Outward: Am I turned outward toward the community?
  2. Aspirations: Are my actions rooted in people's shared aspirations?
  3. Authority: Could I stand up on a table and talk to people about their community, their aspirations and concerns, and would they believe me?
  4. Authenticity: Do I reflect the reality of people's lives and do they believe I have their best interests at heart, even when we disagree?
  5. Accountability: Am I living up to the pledges and promises I have made?
  6. Urge Within: Am I staying true to my urge within?"

PDF: Intentionality Tool

Making Meaning of Data

From the tool: "Libraries today have no shortage of data. They have new and growing streams of information about usage and activity. The challenge is how to make sense of that in the context of Public Knowledge and a Turned-Outward stance. This tool is designed to jumpstart that process."

PDF: Making Meaning of Data

Public Capital Factors

From the tool: "Working in the The Sweet Spot of Public Life requires a focus on Public Capital — the conditions for change that enable communities to move forward. These are the factors that shape the ability and capacity of a community to work together and create change."

PDF: Public Capital Factors

Sustaining Self

From the tool: "Getting people across the community to work together takes a great deal of personal commitment and energy. It's important to make sure you keep your own 'batteries charged' when you do this valuable and often difficult work."

PDF: Sustaining Self

Sweet Spot

From the tool: "The Sweet Spot is where you take action on issues the community cares about in a way that builds the conditions for change in your community at the same time."

PDF: Sweet Spot Webinar Links

PDF: Sweet Spot

Tracking Your Progress

This tool is designed to help a team that has experienced a Harwood Institute training or orientation. The goal of the chart is to keep the team moving and putting what they learned to use.

PDF: Tracking Your Progress

Turn Outward

Turning Outward means using the community, not your conference room, as the main reference point for decisions — from the strategies you and your partners pursue, the partners you choose, how you start and then grow your efforts over time, and even how you structure and run your internal organization.

PDF: Turn Outward