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Posted by Dave Griffith on March 10, 2018 at 8:35 AM


The challenge with any system built on processes and best practices is that once designed and implemented they immediately start to become obsolete. The cause is not necessarily inferior design or execution. The reason is that the market, technology, and knowledge changes with every minute in every day.

The tension is systems, with the associated processes, training, and infrastructure are expensive. In the world of social services where systems provide services, government support with the associated audit measurements is often explicitly tied to established processes. The unintended consequences are many contracts linked to research and approaches that are ten to fifteen years behind current best practices.

So two challenges. The first is how can government funding in the social service sector shift with confidence to the most current best practices that drive the most profound impacts. In a sector where maintenance is often the standard, and many agencies have vested interests in maintaining the status quo, how do we shift to funding and processes that support programs that drive fundamental change in participants lives?

The second challenge is how do agencies undertake the process of innovation on a continual basis and drive innovation into their culture. The first is the need to have a radar function. In that how does an agency keep abreast of the latest requirements of their participants, the most current technology to both track data and information and drive productivity, and finally the most current research and its implications for their work?

I would suggest that concerning funding, is that the sector builds an advocacy function that is politically effective and built on the algebra that long-term maintenance is vastly more expensive than programs that lift an individual out of poverty.

Concerning agency innovation, I would look for the following. With whom do you benchmark? Do you track your impacts and outcomes and react to the information? Do you have a radar function and do you formally evaluate your programs against the most current information? Can you demonstrate impact to social impact investors and foundations and build a nongovernment revenue stream? Do you have a culture that fosters innovation in that pilots, small projects, failure, and open, honest feedback are part of your everyday workflow? I have long believed that the people closest to work, know the most about the work. This is true both in and outside of your organization. What is your process to engage with people closest to the work. A question I love to hear is “ so what does this mean to us?”

Evolution is a constant process.

The question is how are you going along for the ride?

Remember dinosaurs no longer roam the earth.

To quote, “You innovate, or you die.”

Categories: ECS Outreach, Muddy Boots, Leadership

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