Bridgebuilders: How Government Can Transcend Boundaries to Solve Big Problems
Harvard Business Review


In the face of ever more complex societal challenges, this book provides an essential new model for transforming the public sector and getting things done.


Climate change.

Refugee resettlement.

Global supply chains.


We face a new generation of complex problems that stretch across the public and private sectors and flow over organizational boundaries.

To meet the moment, we need a fresh, new approach that strengthens institutions and government agencies by breaking free from organizational boxes and rigid, top-down leadership.

As William D. Eggers, executive director of Deloitte’s Center for Government Insights, and Donald F. Kettl, public management scholar, show in this indispensable book, we need a government of bridgebuilders who collaborate with partners—inside and outside government—to get the job done.


These leaders manage horizontally instead of vertically; they see their role as connectors; and they identify which players have the assets needed to solve the unprecedented problems at hand.

Each chapter examines one of the ten core principles of bridgebuilding and features practical tips and dynamic cases of how effective leaders have put each bridgebuilding
principle to work. The book also includes a special section that helps government leaders create a hundred-day bridgebuilding plan.

Throughout, Eggers and Kettl tell fascinating and instructive stories about some of today’s bridgebuilders—federal, state, and local government leaders who transcend boundaries, partner across sectors, and get stuff done.

Trusted and effective government has never been more important than today. Bridgebuilders provides a new model that current government decision makers—as well
as young leaders who aspire to public service—can learn from and apply right now to transform government and restore public trust.

Bridgebuilders: How Government Can Transcend Boundaries to Solve Big Problems

“Should be on the reading list of every public official.”


Bridgebuilders should be on the reading list of every public official, CEO, and civic leader. It’s a manual for all of us who seek to make democracy work for the people it’s intended to serve, nationally and globally.

Anne-Marie Slaughter

CEO, New America; author, The Chessboard and the Web

Once in a generation, a book comes along that not only redefines an entire field of study and practice but revolutionizes it. For public management and government reform, Eggers and Kettl’s Bridgebuilders is that book!

John J. DiIulio Jr

Frederic Fox Leadership Professor of Politics, Religion, and Civil Society, University of Pennsylvania; coauthor, American Government: Institutions & Policies

Eggers and Kettl offer an innovative, thoughtful, and compelling road map for the federal government to successfully meet America’s growing and complex challenges, rebuild democracy’s promise, and restore public trust in our nation’s most important institution.

Max Stier

founding President and CEO, Partnership for Public Service

In this highly readable book, Eggers and Kettl give public and private leaders a road map—a series of strategies to make what they call ‘blended government’ work.

David Osborne

author, Reinventing America’s Schools; coauthor, Reinventing Government, Banishing Bureaucracy, and The Reinventor’s Fieldbook

As mayor of Philadelphia, I saw every day how addressing the biggest challenges facing cities, from homelessness to crime, from traffic congestion to economic development, requires leaders to effectively work across sectors and levels of government. Bridgebuilders provides the essential playbook for how to do this.

Michael Nutter

former mayor of Philadelphia; David N. Dinkins Professor of Professional Practice in Urban and Public Affairs, Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs

Bridgebuilders offers important guidance to the next generation of government leaders. As the authors point out, government organizations operate vertically, but the problems are horizontal. Only by adopting the strategies outlined in this book can the public sector start solving this generation’s problems.

Elaine Kamarck

founding Director, Center for Effective Public Management; Senior Fellow, Governance Studies, Brookings Institution

The Authors

William D. Eggers


William D. Eggers is executive director of the Deloitte Center for Government Insights and a fellow at the National Academy of Public Administration. He is the author or coauthor of numerous books, including The Solution Revolution and If We Can Put a Man on the Moon, both from Harvard Business Review Press.

Donald F. Kettl


Donald F. Kettl is a professor emeritus, former dean of the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland, and a fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration. He was previously the Sid Richardson Professor at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin. His books include, most recently, The Divided States of America and Can Governments Earn Our Trust?

Bridgebuilders: How Government Can Transcend Boundaries to Solve Big Problems

“Should be on the reading list of every public official.”