Josef Lentsch is Chief Innovation Officer of the Innovation in Politics Institute, and CEO of the Innovation in Politics Institute Germany. He is a political entrepreneur with more than 20 years of experience in founding and growing new ventures at the intersection of the public, private and third sector. In 2019, Springer published his book “Political Entrepreneurship: How To Build Successful Centrist Political Start-ups”. Josef lived and worked in the USA, the UK, Austria and Germany; he holds an MSc in Psychology from the University of Vienna and an MPA from Harvard University.
Which political moment shaped you? What was the trigger that made you step into the political world?
The Fall of the Berlin Wall on 9 November 1989. I was 13 then, and suddenly freedom and democracy seemed possible for all people in the world.
How did you originally get together with the other Managing Partners of the Institute?
It was towards the end of my active career in politics. I saw so many things that can be improved, and the Institute is a great place to help with that. Edward Strasser and Ronny Zuckermann approached me, we had dinner together, and the rest, as they say, is history.
What’s your favorite part of your work? Why is that?
Seeing people getting inspired into political action, and making use of what I help them learn.
Which historical figure would you most like to meet? What would you ask them?
Volodymyr Zelenskyy. How he helped Ukraine win, and what lessons he has for other political leaders.
What life skills are rarely taught but extremely useful?
Which politician(s) should have more to say?
Females, younger people, minorities.
You play the piano and love classical music. If your career was a classical piece, which one would it be?
The Seasons, from Joseph Haydn – each stage has its own charms.
You also run marathons. How has that transformed your mindset and the way you experience life and joy?
The path is the goal – best thing after running over the finishing line is the training that leads up to that moment.
What are the best ways in which political leaders can support other leaders, whether within the same party/organisation or across party lines?
Making yourself available, and providing open and honest advice.
You’re currently working on a new book, about Political Intrapreneurship. What are some of the things you’re learning in this process, and why are they important?
Political parties are some of the most complex organisations on the planet. Innovating them is hard. But it can be done – if you start with the right people, a well-thought out strategy, and the persistence to execute it.