Won’t Lose This Dream: How an Upstart Urban University Rewrote the Rules of a Broken System

By: Andrew Gumbel

Meeting Date: May 3, 2023 6:30 PM

“Won’t Lose This Dream” is a book about how a major public institution transformed itself. The institution: Georgia State University. We focused on what this book tells us about how institutional reform takes place.

The “big ideas” for Urban Atlanta:

  • Insiders who lead reform are unusual people with an unusual skill at persuading others using data and storytelling.
  • These reformers should start small and become known for their experiments and careful documentation of results.
  • Eventually the experiments should create new ways of thinking about the institution and its mission and new processes that change the institution.
  • The role of senior leaders early in the transformation is to identify and cultivate these inside reformers and support their experiments. Later, they must take an active role in shaping and championing the emerging vision of the institution.
  • Insiders and senior leaders must be ready when the “stars align” and conditions are right for transformational change.