Hack Your Bureaucracy

Get Things Done No Matter What Your Role on Any Team


By Marina Nitze

By Nick Sinai

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In this "deeply empowering and practical book"(Cecilia Muñoz), two technology and innovation leaders reveal dozens of tactics that enabled them to accomplish seemingly impossible reforms in organizations of all types and sizes.

Whether you just started your first entry-level job, run the entire company, or just feel trapped by your condo association bylaws, it’s time to it’s time to learn how to get big things done and make a lasting impact with Hack Your Bureaucracy.

From local government to the White House, Harvard to the world of venture capital, Marina Nitze and Nick Sinai have taken on some of the world’s most challenging bureaucracies—and won. Now, they bring their years of experience to you, teaching you strategies anyone can use to improve your organization through their own stories and those of fellow bureaucracy hackers, including:
  • Find Your Paperclip: use small steps to achieve big change
  • Set Your North Star: keep your end goal in sight
  • Cultivate the Karass: assemble an adept team and network
  • Don’t Waste a Crisis: turn every opportunity into a chance for change
  • And more!

Change doesn’t happen just because the person in charge declares it should, even if that person is the CEO of your company or the President of the United States. Regardless of your industry, role, or team, Hack Your Bureaucracy shows how to get started, take initiative on your own, and transform your ideas into impact.



Our friends warned us about writing a book with the word bureaucracy in the title. Who wants to read that, they asked? And who even wants to admit they’re in a bureaucracy? Despite so many of us working in or alongside a bureaucracy, we see them as something to be endured, not loved. But however imperfect, bureaucracies are important and highly relevant. The prodigious economist Anthony Downs opens his famous 1967 book on the topic, Inside Bureaucracy, with the following observation that still holds true today:

It is ironic that bureaucracy is primarily a term of scorn. In reality, bureaus are among the most important institutions in every nation in the world. Not only do they provide employment for a very significant fraction of the world’s population, but they also make critical decisions that shape the economic, educational, political, social, moral, and even religious lives of nearly everyone on earth.

Let’s start with the basics. What defines a bureaucracy? In short, a bureaucracy is a sizable organization—government, business, or nonprofit—with hierarchy, rules, processes, and power. Whether public or private, bureaucracies are characterized by their “complexity, division of labour, permanence, professional management, hierarchical coordination and control, strict chain of command, and legal authority.” Sound familiar?

Max Weber, the German sociologist and bureaucracy theorist—yes, that is a thing!—observed that bureaucracies are “distinguished by specialized expertise, certainty, continuity, and unity.” Weber thought:

In the pure form of bureaucratic organization universalized rules and procedures would dominate, rendering personal status or connections irrelevant. In this form, bureaucracy is the epitome of universalized standards under which similar cases are treated similarly as codified by law and rules, and under which the individual tastes and discretion of the administrator are constrained by due process rules.

While most people focus on the problems to overcome in a bureaucracy—as do we in this book, offering tactics on how to both leverage and reform the existing rules—few focus on the benefits that the stability and continuity of a bureaucracy offer. Bureaucratic structures are resistant to change, for better (resisting external corruption or authoritarian leaders) and for worse (failing to adapt fast enough to meet customer and employee needs). That consistency can be comforting for the employees, stakeholders, and even some customers. We also recognize the value that stability brings and yet see bureaucracies around the world that desperately need to adapt and change, whether to win in the marketplace or to accomplish their important missions. As you hack your bureaucracy to make change, recognize that stability and continuity are often seen by many as a feature, not a bug.

Bureaucracies can be more effective than you think. In an article for Harvard Business Review, Amy C. Edmondson and Ranjay Gulati argue that bureaucracies have benefits: “Bureaucracy—characterized by specialized functions, fixed rules, and a hierarchy of authority—has gotten a bad rap: When designed well, it excels at ensuring reliability, efficiency, consistency, and fairness.” You probably take for granted your mail being delivered, a Big Mac tasting the same no matter where you order it, or Google Search working instantly—but all of those services and products have some degree of bureaucratic systems behind them.

Bureaucracies are all around us. If you work in an organization of any size, whether as an employee, consultant, or volunteer, you’re operating within a bureaucracy to at least some extent. Even the most flexible and innovative start-ups eventually grow into bureaucracies of their own. If you are self-employed or work in a small business, you likely have customers or suppliers that are bureaucracies. And you probably operate within or alongside bureaucratic systems closer to home, like parent-teacher associations, school boards, homeowners associations, and local governments that control zoning rules and how tall your grass can grow.

You probably bemoan the hierarchy, rules, and process. But if bureaucracies are so painful, why are they so plentiful? It’s worth considering the alternative. Without rules and specialization—in an organization of any size—how would decisions get made fairly? How would people allocate resources? How would things get done?

Rules and processes enable organizations to scale. If you’ve ever been at a fast-growing company, you’ll recognize the need to create standardized processes. What may have worked on an ad hoc basis when you were selling and serving a handful of users needs to be codified into a standard process when you have hundreds or thousands of customers. As an organization grows larger, defining specialist roles and standardizing their work becomes more important.

As our friend Rohan Bhobe, cofounder of Nava, puts it: when you are faced with a bureaucracy, your first instinct may be to try to “reduce bureaucracy” or “eliminate process or hierarchy.” But a sufficiently large organization will always have structure. The challenge is to build a structure that most consistently produces the outcomes you want, while accepting or mitigating the trade-offs. Bureaucracies, in all their variations, are here to stay.

Whether your bureaucracy was created recently or has been around for centuries, each rule and process was created for a reason. People thought about the problem and decided that the current rule you are lamenting made sense. It’s easy to assume that the person who created today’s broken process was stupid or didn’t have accurate foresight. But in truth, they probably made the best decision they could at the time. (You might have made the same decision then, too!) If you’re not careful, your innovative solution today can become tomorrow’s bureaucratic nightmare.

World War II general Omar Bradley is often credited with the maxim: “Amateurs talk strategy. Professionals talk logistics.” In other words, the how matters. The same is true for making impact inside, alongside, or against a bureaucracy. We hope our tips on how to hack your bureaucracy—whether it’s your employer, school, community association, house of worship, or local government—empower you to do great things.


Experience is the teacher of all things.


Get out of your office to observe and listen to prospective, current, and former users—ideally in their natural environments. Ground your ideas for change in their real-life experiences.

Get Out of the Office

How do you persuade President Obama’s senior advisors to change their minds? Lisa Gelobter, the new chief digital services officer at the US Department of Education, knew that pushing back against the West Wing wasn’t going to be easy. As a former product and engineering executive at BET Networks, Hulu, and NBC, Lisa had a lot of experience building compelling digital products. And she knew that to be successful at her mission, she would need to understand the behavior of people not usually represented in the West Wing: students.

Lisa and her team were building the College Scorecard, a second-term addition to President Obama’s array of initiatives aimed at decreasing the cost of college, like increasing Pell grants and making financial aid forms easier to use. The president was rankled by the fact that the country’s most popular college ranking system, published by U.S. News and World Report, values what he considered to be the wrong things, like selectivity (the fewer students an institution accepts, the higher the ranking) and facilities (creating incentives to build new climbing walls and gyms, rather than invest in instructor training).

President Obama wanted a scorecard that would compete with it, but one that would give students and their families the same kind of “value for your money” information that you can find when you are buying, say, a new car or a new refrigerator. Colleges with low graduation rates or whose graduates didn’t earn enough to repay their loans would have to disclose that information, presumably causing students looking for good value to give other, higher-performing schools a second look.

It turns out that using the federal government to rank seven thousand post-secondary institutions is trickier than it seems. How do you score the value of degrees from seminaries that are training clergy members who will never seek to earn much money? What about liberal arts degrees, which may ripen into lucrative careers over time, but not at first? What about schools that are serving students from marginalized areas with low-performing high schools? Rather than rank schools against each other, President Obama focused his team on presenting data that would allow students and their families to be better informed consumers.

The College Scorecard, as the initiative became known, is both an official US government website for students to learn about college costs and an effort to make the raw data available to the companies and nonprofits that help Americans with college choice—including other ranking systems. Arguably, getting the data into the hands of thousands of companies, nonprofits, and college counseling services could reach more people than an official government website alone. But the website was something that the president and senior West Wing officials could tangibly understand—and make suggestions about.

The original website was launched in February 2013 as part of President Obama’s State of the Union speech. And it was a big flop. According to the New York Times in 2013:

… some of the data in the new scorecard is a few years old, and most of it has been available from other sources, notably the federal government’s own College Navigator site. Further, the information is presented as averages and medians that might have little relevance to individual families. The scorecard does connect to each institution’s net price calculator, which allows individualized cost estimates, but it does not provide side-by-side comparisons of multiple schools, as other government sites do.

Further, and perhaps more critically, the website lacked the ability to show how much recent graduates of each college were making—an important feature if you are trying to show a prospective student’s “bang for the buck.” This was an innovation that the administration had been very excited about: using earnings data available from the Department of the Treasury and applying it to show how much students who attended particular universities actually earned a few years after graduating. But it was proving difficult to effectively use this earnings data alongside the other information the Department of Education was already making available. That’s why West Wing officials asked Lisa to help.

Lisa and her team at the Department of Education were sensitive to the fact that they weren’t starting from scratch. They did their best to get to know their counterparts across the government who had already been working on this project. But they also knew they would have to get out of the office and talk to real people to make the next version of the tool meaningfully better. Instead of focusing solely on untangling the knots tying up the project internally, Lisa’s team took a fresh approach to the scorecard, asking what it would take to achieve its original purpose of being useful to students and their families as they made big investments in their futures.

With paper drawing prototypes—some made from cardboard salvaged from the trash—Lisa and her team walked around the Mall in front of the US Capitol to chat with college-bound students and their parents. After seeing the prototypes of a mobile website, students gave rapid, in-person feedback. Armed with the data from actual students—who weren’t shy about saying what made sense and what didn’t—Lisa was able to show President Obama’s senior advisors insights like their idea for a “compare” button (something that some of them really wanted) wasn’t a feature students would actually use, especially on the limited real estate of a mobile phone screen. President Obama’s team—not to mention the New York Times—genuinely thought that the ability to compare schools would be a useful feature, but it turns out it didn’t have any value to the students.

This insight didn’t require fancy design or coding skills—the prototypes were literally hand-drawn on leftover cardboard. What it did require was getting out of the office and speaking with the actual target customers to find answers.

As a result of their research, Lisa and her team launched an updated College Scorecard as a mobile website with features that met the needs of actual students, rather than what senior White House officials thought students wanted. The team also persuaded the West Wing to release the data as an application programming interface (API), to make the data available to ranking systems, college counselors, and anyone else who wanted to use the data.

The updated website and underlying data were finally making an impact. Three years later, the New York Times was singing a different tune:

Despite the hand-wringing of many in academia, who saw the immeasurable richness of a college education crassly reduced to a dollar sign, the data [underlying the College Scorecard] has wrought a sea change in the way students and families evaluate prospective colleges. Earnings data are finding their way into a proliferating number of mainstream college rankings, shifting the competitive landscape of American higher education in often surprising ways.

Look Beyond Your Organization

Great companies are obsessed with their customers. They know they need to deeply understand their customers’ needs and desires if they want to have any chance of winning in a hypercompetitive market. Sometimes a company founder has intimately lived the problem she is trying to solve; other times, the founder is good (or gets good quickly) at talking to as many stakeholders as possible to understand their problems. Over time, companies employ people with job titles like “designer,” “user experience researcher,” and “product manager,” all of whom are laser-focused on understanding customer behavior and attitudes.

But large bureaucracies—like government agencies, nonprofits, schools, and even some companies—are not necessarily designed to meaningfully listen to and learn from their end users. When they do, it’s often in a very structured way, such as focus groups, surveys, or commissioned market research. In your organization, it might be the role of the marketing department to listen to prospective customers, and the role of the customer service department to listen to existing customers. These silos can prevent your organization from developing an accurate, holistic view of the real end user experience.

At Harvard, after his White House experience, Nick designed and taught a field class that forced students to get out of the ivory tower and listen to real people in their community. The student teams worked with government clients, like the City of Boston, to understand a specific problem and conduct original field research—doing ride-alongs with cops, interviewing voters in laundromats, talking to parents in libraries, and observing city workers struggling to fill out forms. While the students often hesitated, spending too much time planning these visits, Nick would insist, friendly but firmly, that they leave campus and embed themselves within their target population.

As a result, the students formed much richer understandings of the problem area they were tasked with solving. One student, Berkeley Brown, who spent a considerable amount of time with the Boston Police Gang Unit, observed how valuable it was to escape the “Cambridge bubble” and how her previous assumptions about how the police used technology—and what really mattered—were quickly shattered by spending time with two detectives, John and Brian. She noted:

The remarkable thing was that, after four or five more visits to the gang unit and countless conversations with other stakeholders in the city, I did start to understand their world. I learned the names of the patrolmen’s kids, and learned that the way John and Brian give each other a hard time is actually how they express their deeply entrenched commitment to each other’s safety and well-being, a bond I will probably never fully understand. Indeed, a common refrain we heard is: “my first priority is my partner’s kids.” I learned to adjust my manner of speaking so I could get to the heart of the problems they were facing. I learned how to put their individual narratives into the context of the larger system I was observing, and how to ask questions that were more aligned with their lived experiences. Finally, I learned to take their experience—both the problems with and joys of their job—and turn them into real solutions.

Berkeley also admitted, in her post-class reflection paper, that coming back to Cambridge could be a bit culturally jarring; back in Harvard Square after a several-hour ride-along with the gang unit, she overheard her fellow students debating the pros and cons of taking Dutch versus Swedish as a foreign language, and using phrases like “a priori reasoning.” Berkeley believed she was much wiser from having spent real time in the field, beyond the classroom.

Marina’s first foray into foster care after working at the VA was thanks to an afternoon of talking to real people. She was invited to spend an afternoon in Rhode Island by her former boss Richard Culatta, who had recently become the state’s chief innovation officer. The state was interested in tapping her technical expertise to recruit more foster parents, who were needed badly. Knowing how valuable talking to real people had been to her at the VA, the first thing Marina did was ask to have coffee with anyone who had dropped out of becoming a foster parent. It seemed easier to retain current applicants than to recruit brand-new ones, so she wanted to find out: Why had they given up?

After a few coffees, the answers were all the same: potential foster parents shared that they would call asking about the next steps in the licensing process, but the employee answering the phone often didn’t know and didn’t call them back. If the agency was this disorganized when it was recruiting them, the families thought, how would they support them if they had a challenge with a child in their home? This broke trust, and they dropped out.

This insight ended up being good news: it revealed a relatively easy fix that the agency had not yet considered, because it was not talking to the families that had dropped out. Marina shared the feedback with the state team, which quickly responded by making a shared spreadsheet that let everyone in the office see each family’s progress as they worked through a series of required steps toward becoming licensed. This made it easy for anyone answering the phone to tell people where they stood in the process. Was this spreadsheet the ultimate solution? Of course not. A couple years later, the state implemented an online foster parent licensing portal from Binti, a software vendor focused on foster care, that let families log on to see their own progress. But that initial spreadsheet let the team get started and make immediate progress toward improving the foster parent experience. Today, Rhode Island has one of the highest foster parent licensing rates in the country.

Get Outside the Office—Literally

Once you’re inside an organization, you can’t have a truly outside perspective. No matter if you’ve been there for ten minutes or ten years, you can counter this by going outside.

One of Marina’s most impactful experiences was meeting a woman on a bench at the Menlo Park VA Hospital. Marina, who is rather shy, was forced to sit on this bench all afternoon for an exercise in a design thinking workshop. She was instructed to keep her VA role to herself and simply make small talk with anyone who sat down. This woman seemed eager to talk. Due to her husband’s illnesses, she had essentially lived at the hospital for the last year. As she told her story, Marina racked up a growing mental list of all the VA benefits for which this woman qualified: pension, home loan, and college tuition for their oldest son, to name a few. Yet when asked what other benefits they used besides healthcare, the woman’s response stunned her: “What other benefits?”

The realization that it was possible to literally live at the VA for a year and not know about its eighty-two non-healthcare benefit lines was alarming; but it fueled Marina’s vision of a VA that could organize itself around a veteran and their family, instead of continuing to force veterans to organize themselves around the agency.

Going outside the building proved a repeatable success play at the VA. In the face of a mounting crisis in which veterans could not enroll in VA healthcare because over 800,000 paper applications had piled up in a warehouse, Mary Ann Brody, a new member of Marina’s team, sought answers in an unlikely place: the White House correspondence office. There, every letter sent to the president is meticulously saved and cataloged. Mary Ann pulled a letter from a homeless veteran, Dominic, who was asking for help in obtaining VA healthcare. She arranged to meet him and (with his permission) recorded their interaction, asking him to show her how he had tried to get VA healthcare in the past. Busting all stereotypes of homeless veterans, Dominic was young, personable, and tech-savvy—and he expertly narrated the seemingly impossible task of enrolling in VA healthcare, which he had unsuccessfully tried to do twelve times. The application experience was so bad, he likened it to trying to get through a door spiked with IEDs. After demonstrating that there was literally no way for him to enroll, Mary Ann had him try the team’s prototype for a new and simpler application. Dominic was able to complete it on the first try, declaring he would use it “over anything the VA would provide.”

This video took off like wildfire across the VA and the White House. The focus immediately shifted to: “How do we get this new online application into the hands of every veteran?” Within weeks, every VA employee was directed to point veterans at the new online form instead of paper. Most importantly, Dominic was enrolled in healthcare the very next morning. In a testament to its leadership, the VA even put Dominic’s videos online. Faced with his undeniable real-world experience, decision makers were newly motivated to pick up the pace of transformation. Over a million veterans have since enrolled in healthcare, all thanks to Mary Ann getting out of the building and finding Dominic. (You can watch Dominic’s videos on our website.)

Observing from a Distance

You should also find ways to indirectly observe your customers’ behavior. We aren’t proposing one-way mirrors or fancy surveillance systems, though these days there are lots of high-tech solutions to measure where people move in a store, where they linger on a web page, and how much time they spend making a decision. It often doesn’t take anything but a keen eye to spot customer dissatisfaction. In 2001, delivery driver Joe Perrone saw frustrated customers walk right past parked FedEx trucks while carrying packages to their nearest drop-off location. He suggested adding drop slots to trucks. Thanks to his idea, FedEx trucks effectively became mobile drop-off locations.

If you have an OXO Good Grips peeler in your kitchen, it’s because its designer, Sam Farber, went out and observed real people—starting with his wife. A lifelong entrepreneur, he was looking for a way to break into the kitchen goods space when he noticed his wife, who had arthritis, struggling to peel a carrot. With a bit of clay, he built a prototype—which he then refined by watching many volunteers from the American Arthritis Foundation try to use it. The resulting Good Grips peeler works well for people with joint problems, and also works really well for people who don’t have joint problems.

This technique isn’t limited to observing human users: Canadian officials struggled repeatedly to design raccoon-proof garbage bins until they took the time to observe real raccoons breaking into the bins at night. This ultimately led to a new bin design that the raccoons could not overcome.

Grounding your initiative in the context of real stories of real users (not to mention prospective and former customers) will give you more than survey data—it gives you a narrative that is easy to understand, and easy for others to repeat. Your strongest competitive edge will come from immersing yourself among real customers—especially if that isn’t part of your job description.


Do your homework. Your organization probably has a public engagement, market research, or customer service function. Get a coffee with someone in that department to understand what information they already collect, how they listen to customers—and what they don’t know. For example, your marketing department might have user personas (a fictionalized person with attributes that represents a target customer segment) that can help you determine which people to talk to next.

Talk to customers through existing channels. If your organization has a customer support, customer service, or customer success group, see if you can shadow them, or even do a couple hours of direct customer support. You can also talk to customers at conferences or trade shows.

Go where your customers are. Marina got some of her best feedback from veterans by simply sitting on park benches or in waiting rooms at hospitals and talking to people. Rather than asking others to come to you, go to their office, home, or community.

Be brave. Users are usually eager to talk and share their feedback; don’t be shy!

Get started. Don’t worry about trying to perfectly understand all of your customers at once. Get out there with your first user as soon as you can, and make this kind of interaction part of your routine.


  • "We think that changing the world requires inspirational leaders, but the truth is that real change is driven by regular people working behind the scenes. This is a deeply empowering and practical book for those people: for anyone, anywhere, who just wants to GET STUFF DONE.  Marina and Nick may claim that they're not magicians, but I have watched them in action.  The skills that they are passing along in this book feel like magic because they work."—Cecilia Muñoz, former Director, White House Domestic Policy Council under President Obama
  • “If you’ve ever been frustrated by red tape, think of this book as a pair of scissors. Marina Nitze and Nick Sinai are master bureaucracy busters, and their experience in the White House shows how you can root out inefficiency in your own backyard.”—Adam Grant, #1 New York Times bestselling author of THINK AGAIN and host of the TED podcast WorkLife
  • "I’ve never read a book with so many good ideas. Every page that I read, I kicked myself, thinking back on all the times I tried to make change and failed. If Hack Your Bureaucracy had been written 30 years earlier, I would have accomplished so much more in my life."—Steven Levitt, author of Freakonomics and University of Chicago professor
  • "A master class on intrapreneurship. If you want to drive change in large organizations, Hack Your Bureaucracy is a must read."—Eric Schmidt, co-founder of Schmidt Futures and former CEO of Google
  • "To tackle the biggest challenges we face on the planet, we will have to make bureaucracies work.  Marina and Nick show us how. Practical, insightful, and totally spot-on, Hack Your Bureaucracy is essential reading for everyone from frustrated leaders to ambitious newcomers." —Jen Pahlka, Founder, Code for America and former U.S. Deputy CTO
  • “Whether you are revamping your small business, helping to improve the PTA, or leading a scaled organization, this book has something for you. Marina and Nick take solving complex organizational problems and driving outcomes to a new level. Hack Your Bureaucracy is a step-step-guide on how to have impact one practical step at a time. Their bureaucracy hacking advice is thoughtful, tested and useful wisdom for those leading in any sector.” —Tara McGuinness, co-author of Power to the Public, founder, New Practice Lab
  • "Nick and Marina are incredibly gifted change agents, and in Hack Your Bureaucracy, they provide hard-won lessons and wisdom that will be invaluable to everyone from entrepreneurs trying to build great companies to innovators working to change institutions of all kinds from the inside out. Like working with Nick and Marina, the book is energizing, inspiring, and an absolute blast— a how-to manual for driving change unlike any other."—Todd Park, cofounder of Devoted Health, Athenahealth, and Castlight Health and former U.S. CTO
  • "Having worked for decades in the Defense Department, including having had the top three jobs, I know how important it is to empower people. I’ve seen it with both military service members and DoD civilian employees across a variety of roles: with hustle, grit, organizational savviness, and teamwork, you can take a good idea all the way through successful execution. In Hack Your Bureaucracy, Nick and Marina—world-class bureaucracy hackers themselves—present an actionable and fun guide to getting things done, even in the most challenging of environments."—Ash Carter, former Secretary of Defense
  • "I spent nearly three years as the U.S. Air Force Chief Information Officer working every day to hack my bureaucracy. I wish I knew then what I see now in the straightforward and well-thought prescriptions laid out in this book… a must-read for enlightened organizations and leaders looking to inspire the process changes and cultural mindset shifts necessary to hack their bureaucracies!"—Bill Bender, Lt Gen (Ret) USAF, SVP, Customer Excellence, Leidos
  • "Hack Your Bureaucracy should be on the desk of every government official in the land--federal, state, and local. It offers powerful tools to strengthen and expand our democracy by making it work for everyone."—Anne-Marie Slaughter, CEO, New America
  • "The U.S. federal government is the largest and most unwieldy living organism in the world. In Hack Your Bureaucracy, Marina Nitze and Nick Sinai use their own experience as agents of change in the civil service to give a master class on how to get things done. This book is essential reading for anybody working in any large institution, not just government."—Carl Malamud, Public Resource
  • "A masterful guide to hacking the bureaucracy. Nick and Marina don't just talk the talk. When I was standing up the DoD Joint AI Center (JAIC), the organization took on a completely new life after Nick jumped in to help us. And as a relatively recent military retiree, I can attest that the VA online experience is 50x better today than it was just a few years ago. If you aren't energized by this book, you don't have a pulse!"—Jack Shanahan, retired United States Air Force lieutenant general and former Director of the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center
  • "I spent nearly three years as the U.S. Air Force Chief Information Officer working every day to hack my bureaucracy. I wish I knew then what I see now in the straightforward and well thought prescriptions laid out in this book… a must read for enlightened organizations and leaders looking to inspire the process changes and cultural mindset shifts necessary to hack their bureaucracies!" —Leidos Bill Bender, Lt Gen (Ret) USAF, SVP, Customer Excellence

On Sale
Sep 12, 2023
Page Count
368 pages
Hachette Go

Marina Nitze

About the Author

Marina Nitze is currently a partner at Layer Aleph, a crisis response firm that specializes in restoring complex software systems to service. Marina is also a fellow at New America's New Practice Lab, where she works on improving America's foster care system. Marina was most recently the Chief Technology Officer of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs under President Obama, after serving as a Senior Advisor on technology in the Obama White House and as the first Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the U.S. Department of Education. She serves on the board of TurbineOne and advisory boards of Foster America, Smartsheet, and Think of Us; created TaskTackler, the personal productivity app for Type-A personalities; and previously authored the book Business Efficiency for Dummies. She lives in Seattle, WA.
Nick Sinai is a Senior Advisor at Insight Partners, a VC and private equity firm, and serves on the boards of Rebellion Defense, HawkEye360, LeoLabs, Shift5, and BrightBytes. Nick is also Adjunct Faculty at Harvard Kennedy School and a Senior Fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. Nick served as U.S. Deputy Chief Technology Officer in the Obama White House, and prior, played a key role in crafting the National Broadband Plan at the FCC. Recently, Nick co-founded the U.S. Digital Corps, a new two-year federal fellowship for early-career technologists, launched in the summer of 2021. He lives in Westwood, MA.

Learn more about this author

Nick Sinai

About the Author

Nick Sinai is a Senior Advisor at Insight Partners, a VC and private equity firm, and serves on the boards of Rebellion Defense, HawkEye360, LeoLabs, Shift5, and BrightBytes. Nick is also Adjunct Faculty at Harvard Kennedy School and a Senior Fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. Nick served as U.S. Deputy Chief Technology Officer in the Obama White House, and prior, played a key role in crafting the National Broadband Plan at the FCC. Recently, Nick co-founded the U.S. Digital Corps, a new two-year federal fellowship for early-career technologists, launched in the summer of 2021. He lives in Westwood, MA.

Learn more about this author